Baskonia takes refuge in the Buesa to resurface against Efes


Cazoo Baskonia welcomes Anadolu Efes, current Euroleague champion, this Friday (8:30 p.m.), with the need to win again on their court and leave behind their bad dynamics in Europe, in a complex situation due to the provisional suspension of their Pierriá Henry after an anti-doping control, while the Turks arrive with certain doubts and with the urgency of qualifying.

Joan Peñarroya’s men face a key duel for their aspirations to be a ‘playoff’ team. Seventh with a record of 11-9, a win at home against Efes would have ‘double’ value, after beating the Turks (78-83) in the first round. A little over a month ago, the Basques overcame the champion at the Sinan Erdem Dome, with a second half to frame.

With a great Giedraitis, who confirmed the victory with a great triple finish, and Howard and Marinkovic close to twenty points, Baskonia hit the table and built arguments to oppose the ‘Top 4’. However, his double in Turkey in December – he also beat Fenerbahce – and the European victories against Virtus and Real Madrid are far away now, in a horrifying European streak.

In 2023, the enthusiasm was lowered with four consecutive defeats against ALBA Berlin (85-84), Bayern (92-79), Partizan (83-65) and Barça (78-85). And it is that the balance in the new year is very poor for the Basques, with only three wins in eight games, all in the Endesa League, a competition in which they are fourth (13-4) after losing this weekend against Obradoiro ( 91-86), although they have already qualified for the Cup.

For this match, and for the coming weeks, Baskonia will not be able to count on the American point guard Pierriá Henry, provisionally suspended after carrying out a FIBA ​​anti-doping control that has led the club to open a file against him. A “complex” and “uncomfortable” situation for the group, according to Peñarroya.

“Although many think not, the club’s statement is very clear and it is what it is. We lose a very important player, because of his statistics, because of everything he does for the team, defensively. But things happen, and you have to look ahead”, explained the coach, who also raised the question of Tadas Sedekerskis, already absent from ACB due to discomfort in the left adductor. By contrast, Pavel Savkov has been registered for this day.

In front will be an Efes injured after falling (81-89) unexpectedly against Bayern at home. A defeat that leaves him ninth in the table, at the gates of the ‘playoffs’ (10-10), the current champion’s priority objective and that forces him to win by qualifying necessity. They return to a field where they already lost last year (87-74), but where they have four victories in their last five trips to the Buesa Arena.

The mission of the Basques will be to stop Micic and Clyburn, who were successful in the duel of the first round. They already suffered from the offensive capacity of the second best team since the triple, with an average of 10.6 per game, behind the Basque team itself (10.8).

Ergin Ataman recovers Shane Larkin, a player who wore the Barça jersey in the 2016-2017 season, absent throughout the first round due to injury. They also incorporate Chris Singleton, after the departure of Isaiah Taylor and Achille Polonara to Zalgiris Kaunas. Dogus Balbay is low after undergoing hip surgery.



CAZOO BASKONIA: Howard, Thompson, Marinkovic, Giedraitis and Kotsar –possible starting five–; Hommes, Costello, Diez, Kurucs, Sedekerskis, Enoch and Raieste.

ANADOLU EFES: Beaubois, Micic, Bryant, Polonara and Pleiss –possible starting five–; Clyburn, Ilyasoglu, Taylor, M’Baye, Zizic and Dunston.

–REFEREES: Radovic, Panther and Difallah.

–PAVILION: Fernando Buesa Arena.

–TIME: 20.30/DAZN.