Zalgiris Kaunas go up against Unicaja on Wednesday with both teams needing the points if they are to qualify for the Top 16 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
Two teams fighting for survival in Group B meet Wednesday in Kaunas, Lithuania, where Zalgiris host Unicaja.
Zalgiris (1-5) are one win away from fourth place, shared by Brose Baskets and KK Zagreb (2-3), and so they cannot afford to drop a home game now.
Unicaja (3-3) come off back-to-back losses and will try to change their momentum so as not to fall backwards into a four-way fight for two Top 16 spots.
Unicaja's only win in Kaunas dates back to 2006, but the visitors managed to win this season's first game between them 85-78 in overtime at home in Malaga.
Unicaja are the best rebounding game in the competition, especially on the offensive end (77 in 6 games). Zalgiris are playing more up-tempo since head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic arrived in Kaunas.
Expect a fun-to-watch yet very decisive game that will give the winner a huge step forward.
Zalgiris head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic said: “We are facing a really important game. The win in this game would keep us in the normal road to the Top 16 and we could be in a comfortable position and not dependant on other teams before the next games.
Unicaja is a good team with a deep roster and they are doing really good in the Spanish championship. But they haven’t secured their place in Top16 yet, so they are coming to Kaunas to fight for important points for them. I wasn’t on the bench when the two teams first met, but I saw from the video that the lack of rebounding and many turnovers killed us.
“We need to be better in these areas, to control the ball better and we’ll be one step closer to the win. We have some problems in our team. Milovan Rakovic missed some games because he was sick. Tadas Klimavicius and Sonny Weems also missed practices, but we hope to have them for the game.
“However these health problems do not influence our motivation for the game. The fans who support us in big numbers in new Zalgirio Arena are making us responsible to fight every minute."
DeJuan Collins, who missed last week's game against CSKA, should be back against Unicaja on Wednesday, while Unicaja is without playmaker E.J. Rowland, who joins Uros Tripkovic in the injury list.
Unicaja have been running their offence through Luka Zoric and Joel Freeland, who combined for 28 points and 24 rebounds when their team stopped Zalgiris in Malaga.
Zalgiris will rely on its starting frontcourt, Paulius Jankunas and Robertas Javtokas, to power the boards and do a good defensive job against them.
Tadas Klimavicius and Milovan Rakovic will not have it easy against former All-Euroleague forward Jorge Garbajosa and center Nedzad Sinanovic.
Even when the battle in the paint seems the biggest key to this game, the fact that Rowland is sidelined gives Zalgiris an advantage at point guard, as it can use Ty Lawson, Mantas Kalnietis or Collins against Kristaps Valters.
Unicaja captain Berni Rodriguez might also see minutes at point guard. Sonny Weems needs to use his athleticism in a very important match-up against Tremmell Darden. Controlling the boards to run the break will be critical for both teams in this crucial game.