Laboral Kutxa – Panathinaikos – These two teams have already met in the EuroLeague this season. PAO has first celebrated with 95:74 in Athens in the group stage in the first phase of the competition, but then in the rematch in the seventh round, Laboral has won with 79:77 in Spain. After the first round of the Top 16 phase, both teams have one win. Begins: 10.01.2014 – 20:30 CET
Laboral Kutxi has started the Top 16 phase with a very important victory over Unicaja with 93:79 away. But this did not affect them much, which was evident by their next big win last weekend, when they mastered Barcelona in the Spanish league. This means that they are in a good shape and that they are welcoming the team from Athens with great optimism. Before this phase they brought one reinforcement, the Italian playmaker Poet, who was without a club since the beginning of the season, and who has spent the past three seasons in Virtus (last season he had an average of 11 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds). It is interesting that these two teams have met a number of times over the last few years. Laboral (under various names) has won five of the last six home matches against PAO, but the Greek club generally has more wins, because they have celebrated in 16 previous matches.
Laboral is a more efficient team than PAO in the season so far, they are almost equal in rebounds, as well as in the number of assists. Laboral could have some problems with PAO's defence, because the Greeks are playing it very well, with 8.3 stolen balls per game on average. Laboral is a better team in shooting from all positions and they have better percentages. According to the statistics, their main player of the team is the experienced Nocion, but there are also San Emeterio, Hamilton and young forces Hanga and Pleiss.
Probable lineups Laboral Kutxa: Huertel, San Emeterio, Causeur, Nocioni, Pleiss
Before this match, PAO has mastered the team of Rethymnou with 82:63 in the national championship and they have thus stayed in the leading position with 11 wins and only one defeat. After the first phase and five wins and five defeats in EuroLeague, they have started the Top 16 phase with a win over Armani (73:57). They played excellent defence, which will also be their main hope for this match, because they actually possess several fantastic players who can steal the opponent's ball or block his shot at any moment. However, the tradition of playing in Spain does not really go in their favour, but when we know that they have won the first match in Greece against Laboral with 21 points difference, and lost the second one at the very end then they certainly have something to look forward to in this match. Like we already said, their game in defence will be crucial and they should not in any case enter in any shooter clashes with the home team.
Gist, Lasma, Diamantidis and others can come to a favourable result based on the defence, and any additional points from Fotsis, Ukic, Bramos and Pappas can only help their teammates in Spain. We should emphasize that the coach Pedoulakis has so far in this season tried out 11 different players in the starting lineup and only Gist has started in all matches! Diamantidis leads the league in the number of average assists (7.6) and he might even break a few records of the EuroLeague in this match.
Probable lineups Panathinaikos: Ukic, Diamantidis, Maciulis, Gist, Lasme
Laboral Kutxa – Panathinaikos Pick
We have already pointed out several times that the defence could solve this match. We give equal chances to both teams, but the one that manages to establish a better defence could celebrate.
Pick: under 150.5 points
Odds: 1.90 at bet365 (down to 1.80 can be played)