With an opportunity to secure a spot in the 2015 Copa del Rey, Valencia kicks off Jornada 17 by hosting Andy Panko and Fuenlabrada.
Valencia, fresh of an 82-80 loss to Bilbao, will qualify for the mid-season tournament (Feb. 19-22) with a win.
Meanwhile, Panko — the ACB’s leading scorer at 16.9 PPG — looks to lead his team to a 2-0 start under new head coach Hugo López.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 17 at 19:00 CET (1 p.m. ET)
Location: Pabellón Fuente San Luis – Valencia, Spain
Last 5 Games: Valencia (3-2), Fuenlabrada (2-3)
NBA Prospect Watch: Moussa Diagne (C, Fuenlabrada) and Guillem Vives (PG, Valencia)
Valencia enters this game after a tough defeat, but the club has been playing well.
Before their loss to Bilbao, Valencia earned consecutive double-digit wins over FIATC Joventut and Iberostar Tenerife.
They sit in 6th place in the standings and boast a strong point differential of plus-62. They rank 5th in the ACB with a 112.58 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) and are second in offensive rebounding percentage (34.74 percent).
That offensive production could pose problems for an under-manned Fuenlabrada squad.
Fuenla looked excellent in Hugo López’s debut, earning an 83-66 victory over Tenerife. Unfortunately, Jimmy Baron Jr., the team’s 2nd-leading scorer, left the team this week to sign with a Turkish club.
Before his departure, the 6’3″ guard was the ACB’s 10th leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game.
To keep pace with Valencia, Fuenla will need strong games from guard Steve Burtt and big man Jeleel Akindele.
Burtt has the potential to be a high-volume scorer. However, he has struggled recently. Burtt scored just three points combined over the last two weeks, while shooting 1-of-10 from the field.
Meanwhile, Akindele dominated Tenerife last Sunday, earning ACB Player of the Week honors after putting up 19 points and 11 rebounds.
It was the Nigerian center’s fourth double-double this season.
To pull off the upset in Valencia, Fuenlabrada will need a similar effort from Akindele tonight.
Jordana 17 Games
- FIATC Joventut (12-4) vs. Baloncesto Sevilla (3-13)
- Gipuzkoa Basket (6-10) vs. CAI Zaragoza (9-7)
- MoraBanc Andorra (5-11) vs. FC Barcelona (11-5)
- Iberostar Tenerife (6-10) vs. UCAM Murcia (8-8)
- Herbalife Gran Canaria (9-7) vs. Movistar Estudiantes (6-10)
- Unicaja Málaga (13-3) vs. Bilbao Basket (12-4)
- Laboral Kutxa Baskonia (7-9) vs. Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro (8-8)
- La Bruixa d’Or Manresa (4-12) vs. Real Madrid (12-4)