|A pair of victories of fewer than 5 points each has Alba Berlin (2-0) sitting pretty at the top of Group I as it hosts another classic European team that wears yellow, Aris BSA 2003, in the first of two key showdowns between them. Although it's situation looks great, Alba knows that this third of six Last 16 games could be crucial. Chock full of experienced players, Aris (0-2) is desperate for a win, and feels it deserves one after two defeats by a total of 3 points. And should Aris get one in Berlin, it will then have one of the best home crowds anywhere waiting for the Week 4 rematch in Thessaloniki. But Alba has its own stellar crowd, always pushing 10,000, that will back the hosts this week. Alba will rely once again on its star inside-out tandem of Blagota Sekulic and Julius Jenkins, who are the competitions top scoring duo in the Last 16 so far, at 41 points per game combined. A third scorer, usually either Rashad Wright from the backcourt or Immanuel McElroy in and around the paint, will be enough to put Alba in a good position to win if its defense, third-best in the Last 16 so far at 65.5 points allowed per game, stays consistent. Meanwhile, Aris will marshall much of its attack from the perimeter, where Jeremy Richardson, Aaron Miles and Keydron Clark will get their shots. Both teams might want to think twice about three-pointers, as they are two of only four Last 16 teams below a 30% accuracy rate, but otherwise, their stats are very similar. In fact, Aris rates higher on performance index rating after two games than Alba so far. The difference has been in the defense. If it comes down to a big shot or two, watch out for Aris veteran Michailis Kakiouzis, who has hit them his whole career. Still, with its can't-miss crowd in attendance on Tuesday, Alba will have a golden opportunity to keep its perfect momentum going to the half-way break of the Last 16.
REFEREES: Luigi Lamonica, Oscar Lefwerth, Joseph Bissang
Monday, February 08, 2010