At Panathinaikos, Olympiakos and in Ludwigsburg

Bayern goes "well prepared" into a difficult week away

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It is probably the toughest week of the season that the Bayern basketball players will have to go through in the 2019-2020 season. The German champions have to cope with three extremely difficult road games in five days and will be away for just under a week. In the EuroLeague, there will be two games in one week starting with their appearance at the Final Four contender Panathinaikos Athens on Wednesday evening (3.1., 20:00). Two days later they'll play a few kilometers south-west (Friday, 17.1, 19:30), against the second Greek heavyweight, Olympiakos Piraeus, who recently had a coaching change.

On Saturday, the return journey to Germany and matchup against Ludwigsburg will take place on Sunday afternoon (19.1., 15:00). The second-place team is undefeated at home but will take on the FCBB who have yet to lose a game in the BBL.

As always, all games will be broadcast on the MagentaSport platforms. The Bundesliga game on Sunday in Ludwigsburg will also be shown by the free TV station Sport1.

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14 players on board, including TJ Bray for the first time
"We have a long and hard week ahead of us," said coach Oliver Kostic before leaving. "As we have already emphasized recently, our good second half against ZSKA Moscow is the basis for our upcoming games. We have trained well and prepared ourselves with concentration for the next difficult tasks. Despite minor problems, I hope that all players will be at our disposal."

Bayern has all 14 players with them for the first time as TJ Bray is expected to make his debut in the Bayern jersey this week after a foot operation earlier in 2019.

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Panathinaiko  has fought their way into playoff contention with a record of 10-8 and coach Rick Pitino has recently even spoken of a possible Final Four participation. A few days ago, the experienced guard Andy Rautins from Turkey was also signed. Pitino has been back on the bench since the end of November. After a strong 106-102 win overdefending champion ZSKA Moscow, the team around top scorers Jimmer Fredette (15.1 ppg), DeShaun Thomas (13.9) and the Greek assist machine Nick Calathes (13.7/9.3 apg) lost last week in Milan (96-87). At the first matchup in Munich (87-75 for the Greeks) Bayern showed a first-class performance in the first quarter and led 24-16 before the class of the guests prevailed.

"Panathinaikos is a great team with a coaching legend. Above all, they impress their fans thanks to their exceptional experience and individual class, led by Nick Calathes and our former player Tyrese Rice," Kostic said.

"We tried to improve little things in training and came even closer together," said FCBB guard Nihad Djedovic. "We'll be meeting two very strong home teams in Athens, starting with Panathinaikos, who showed their strength in the first matchup. But we're going to fight for 40 minutes, give it our all and try to make as few mistakes as possible so that we're in the game until the end and have a chance to win. Going from game to game, that's our path for this week - the next one is always our priority.

First game in 2020 for Ludwigsburg  
Olympiakos Piraeus, with a 7-11 record, are one win better than Bayern and are obviously worried about their aspired play-off participation. This weekend the return of coach Georgios Bartzokas was announced. He already coached the club from the port city between 2012 and 2014 - and led them to the EuroLeague title in 2013. After the departure of David Blatt and former assistant coach Kestutis Kemzura, the Greek is the third coach of Olympiakos, which is known to play its professionals only in the EuroLeague.

The Ludwigsburg giants will follow all this in a relaxed manner: The Swabians, who are still undefeated at home in the BBL - played their last game the day before New Year's Eve. With a 22-6 points-record, they are currently directly behind Bayern in the standings. 

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