AEK-UCAM Preview: AEK look to make home advantage count against Murcia
FIBA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - FINAL FOUR
|AEK||2:30 PM (EST)||UCAM Murcia|
AGONAsport.com’s Peter Katsiris previews AEK’s clash with UCAM Murcia in the semi-final of the FIBA Basketball Champions League…
In just the second-ever edition of the FIBA Basketball Champions League, AEK have the incredible opportunity of securing their first European title since winning the FIBA Saporta Cup in 2000.
Add to the fact that AEK are also hosting the tournament’s Final Four in Athens and the stakes are all that much higher for an Enosi side that is already enjoying its best season in years with the capture of the Greek Cup to boot.
UCAM Murcia provide the first hurdle for AEK, and while the Spanish outfit might have not been fancied by most to make it this far, Murcia have already shown nothing is out reach in just their second-ever European campaign in club history.
AEK: Despite clinching a berth in the Final Four with a tie against SIG Strasbourg in France, AEK have slumped to just one win in their last five outings. Although the club have been fixated on the Final Four since booking their ticket, Dragan Sakota and company would’ve preferred a win against Promitheas to serve as a momentum builder heading into the Final Four.
UCAM Murcia: While nobody can blame Murcia for prioritizing European success over domestic success, the Spanish side are still at risk of missing the playoffs in Liga ACB. Back-to-back losses certainly didn’t help Murcia’s bid to sneak into the playoffs, but at this point the Spanish side will be more worried on the missed opportunities to boost team confidence heading into the Final Four.
01/04/18 Olympiacos 100-86 AEK (Basket League)
04/04/18 SIG Strasbourg 83-83 AEK (Champions League)
11/04/18 AEK 72-81 PAOK (Basket League)
14/04/18 Gymnastikos 75-86 AEK (Basket League)
28/04/18 AEK 75-76 Promitheas (Basket League)
12/04/18 UCAM Murcia 82-62 Fuenlabrada (Liga ACB)
15/04/18 Gran Canaria 83-71 UCAM Murcia (Liga ACB)
22/04/18 UCAM Murcia 84-73 Zaragoza (Liga ACB)
25/04/18 UCAM Murcia 75-92 Joventut (Liga ACB)
29/04/18 Baskonia 87-85 UCAM Murcia (Liga ACB)
Despite plenty of Greco-Spanish duels in the history of Greek basketball, Friday will mark the first meeting between the two sides.
AEK have encountered Spanish opposition on numerous occasions, including in the group stage when they split the meetings with Movistar Estudiantes.
For Murcia, Friday will mark their first encounter with Greek opposition after narrowly missing out on a chance to possibly face AEK in the 7DAYS EuroCup after the Enosi transferred to the FIBA Champions League as an aftermath to the saga between the EuroLeague and FIBA.
After an unexpected berth in the playoffs, back-to-back impressive wins in the knockout rounds has put AEK in an excellent position for a shot at European glory.
All of the pressure is on AEK to perform as the Enosi have all the of the variables seemingly in their favour after being awarded home court for the Final Four.
With the benefit of having the home crowd in their favour, AEK will just need to ensure they take things one possession at a time even if the expectation is that the club are to hoist the title on Sunday.
From Murcia’s viewpoint, nobody would’ve expected the Spanish side to progress from their group as the club began just their second European campaign in club history.
After dethroning last year’s champions Iberostar Tenerife in the Round of 16, Murcia will feel they already have the experience to take care of business in a high stakes situation such as this.
With the entire OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall likely set to root against them, Murcia will need to make the role of villain their own in hopes of securing what would be the biggest upset in club history.