Eight games played, two remaining. The situation with Rytas now is basically a game of tag – if they catch Cholet, they make it to the Top 16, if not… what a surprise… they don’t. With a minor exception, that is virtually impossible here… It’s not like Cholet are going win against Fenerbahce any time soon… Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened in their first game…
Anyway, first things first – the upcoming matchday will feature two important games for the Vilnius side. Lietuvos Rytas welcoming the reigning Euroleague champs Barcelona and perhaps an even more crucial game featuring the winless Cibona and the Cholet, who are now in that fourth place in Group C. The exact place, where Rytas wants to be, if not after these two games, then at the end of the regular season.
The fact of the matter is that, despite showing signs of improvement, Rytas is not really capable of downing a big side. Even at home in Vilnius. However, Barcelona hasn’t been at the top of their game as well, which should be encouraging for Lietuvos Rytas, but shouldn’t create any fake illusions – Barca is still the favorite of this game and by quite a bit.
What could be of bigger importance to the final standings in the group, is the game in France between the two teams that, at least in Lithuania, were thought to be the outsiders of the group before the season, the two teams that Lietuvos Rytas was expected to pass.
Last week Lietuvos Rytas cruised to a win over the athletic French side, who were not worried about the defensive side of their game at all. And that wasn’t only when talking about team defense, but also individually. One would think that with the athletic superiority, the French would be able to use advantage of it, but Cholet players just looked disinterested in playing defense. Allowing a man to run freely through screens and not even trying to keep the distance closer. There were occasions were a screen wasn’t even needed to lose the defender. Yes, it was that bad…
What I’m trying to suggest is that a Cibona win wouldn’t be a massive upset. Yes, the Croatians are 0-8, still searching for that win, but Cholet isn’t that good of a team themselves. Let’s put it this way, if they’re going to get a win, it’s going to be against the French as their next opponent is Rytas, a team looking in much better form when comparing to Cholet.
Bojan Bogdanovic and Leon Radosevic have been playing well for Cibona, who’ll become the second-most supported team on Wednesday. After Žalgiris, of course… If the unpaid youngsters can get that win – they‘ll become heroes over here if Rytas do end up making the Top 16.
For better or for worse, it looks like Cibona is more capable of doing their job against Cholet than Rytas versus Barcelona. Enough talking, let’s see how it goes. Cholet against Cibona on Wednesday, Lietuvos Rytas against Barca on Thursday. Let’s hope for the best.