|The fourth and final ticket the Eurocup Finals will be awarded in Valencia, Spain, on Wednesday when local side Power Electronics hosts Aris BSA 2003 in the second game of their home-and-away series. Valencia, the competition’s first winner back in 2003, is the clear favorite to win the series after taking the opening leg 64-71 in Thessaloniki, Greece, last week. Accordingly, Aris must win by at least 8 points, a difficult task considering that the team has only lost once in 36 Eurocup home games and that was by just 4 points. Aris does have some optimism as leading scorer Jeremy Richardson, who missed the first leg through injury, is back. Richardson teams with Matt Walsh to give head coach David Blatt’s team an elite pair of scorers on the wings. Shooting ace Nikos Hatzivrettas joins them in a pivotal battle against Valencia’s best on the wings, Nando De Colo, Victor Claver and Thomas Kelati. Marko Marinovic, Valencia’s top scorer with 18 points off the bench in Game 1, joins Rafa Martinez at point guard to challenge the Aris duo of Keydren Clark and Aaron Miles. Both teams feature plenty of size and experience in the paint. Valencia starts Kosta Perovic and Matt Nielsen and brings Serhiy Lishchuk and Florent Pietrus off the bench. Aris starts Andy Betts at center, while Michailis Kakiouzis, Nikos Barlos and former Valencia big man Dimos Dikoudis fill out the rest of the minutes. Though Aris outrebounded Valencia 34-26 in Game 1, it shot poorly and committed 14 turnovers, mistakes it must correct to have a real shot in Valencia. Though it will not be easy for the visitors, few teams can match Aris for experience top to bottom. On a team that features multiple Euroleague and European national champions – including the head coach – there is every reason to expect Aris to challenge till the very end and make this a thrilling finish before the fourth and final spot at the Eurocup Finals is decided.
REFEREES: Romualdas Brazauskas, Fernando Rocha, Nicola Maestre
Tuesday, March 30, 2010