KK Zagreb against CSKA Moscow
KK Zagreb (2-5) is tied for fourth -- or last, depending on how you look at it -- in Group B and trailing in the tiebreakers, so it desperately needs a victory to have a chance at advancing to the round of 16 in its first Euroleague competition. May, a four-year NBA veteran who was the 13th player selected in the 2005 draft after leading North Carolina to the NCAA title and earning Final Four MOP honors, averages 11.8 points and ranks third in the 24-team Euroleague in rebounding with 7.8. Joining him up front is Gonzaga grad Josh Heytvelt, averaging 8.6 points and 6.6 boards in Euroleague play. The defending Croatian League champs will likely be without injured Mario Kasun (11.7 ppg), who appeared in 73 games for the Magic from 2004-06, and will definitely be without eight-year NBA vet T.J. Ford, who left the team after two Euroleague appearances and is primed to return to the NBA as a free agent.
CSKA Moscow (7-0), which joins FC Barcelona Regal as the only other unbeaten team in the Euroleague, has already clinched a berth in the final 16. CSKA Moscow leads the Russian league (PBL) with a 4-0 record and is 17-1 over three competitions this season. Krstic, a seven-year NBA veteran, averages 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds and was named Euroleague player of the month for November. Ten-year NBA vet Andrei Kirilenko, who is out with an injured shoulder, won that honor in October, making CSKA Moscow the first Euroleague team to have players honored in back-to-back months. Viktor Khryapa (8.3), who spent two seasons each with the Blazers and Bulls, is expected to replace Kirilenko in the starting lineup. CSKA Moscow has three US collegians coming off the bench in Sammy Mejia (DePaul), who has averaged 4.7 points in three games and was a second-round choice of the Pistons in 2007; Mississippi State's Jamont Gordon (4.9); and Sasha Kaun (3.7) from Kansas. Krstic scored 15 points and Mejia had his season-high of 10 when CSKA defeated KK Zagreb last month 89-47. Expect another high-scoring effort, as CSKA averages 86 points per game while KK Zagreb yields 87.
Real Madrid against Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
This game will demonstrate which team, both 5-2 atop Group C, can better handle its NBA defections, as Real Madrid has bid adios to Serge Ibaka and Rudy Fernandez, while Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has said peace to Jordan Farmar. Carroll (16.9) is Real Madrid's leading scorer and has made 60 percent of his 3s (21 of 35) and 95 percent of his free throws (19 of 20). Four-year NBA vet Sergio Rodriguez shares the Euroleague lead in assists (5.6) despite coming off the bench. Duke grad Marty Pocius averages 7.4 points, while another ex-Blue Devil, Kyle Singler, has yet to play with the club since signing last week. Real Madrid has already qualified for the next round while leading the Euroleague in scoring (87.9) and shares the Spanish league (ACB) lead with FC Barcelona Regal at 9-1.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv will sorely miss Farmar, who scored a game-high 27 points in its 88-82 victory over Real Madrid last month. With Farmar gone, Maccabi will look inside to 6-foot-9 Sofoklis Schortsanitis, a second-round choice of the Clippers in 2003 and its leading remaining scorer at 12.1. USC's David Bluthenthal (9.6), Virginia's Devin Smith (7.0) and ex-Spur David Langford (2.7) are also listed as probable starters. Lior Eliyahu (10.6), a second-round pick by the Magic in 2006, and Richard Hendrix (6.3), a second-rounder by the Warriors in 2008, join former Northeastern and Duquesne center Shawn James (3.4) off the bench. Maccabi leads the Israeli Premier League with a 6-1 record and has won an incredible 39 of 42 league titles. This will be the 44th meeting between these teams, and Maccabi has won three of the last five in Madrid.