A team trying to stay alive in Group G meets another trying for its first-ever Top 16 victory when Benetton welcomes Aris TT Bank to Treviso, Italy on Wednesday. Benetton (2-2) needs a win to tie for the second place in this group, as co-leaders Unicaja (3-1) hosts Dynamo Moscow (3-1) play this week's other other Group G game. Meanwhile, Aris (0-4) lost its last three games by a combined margin of 5 points and wants to prove with a victory that it belongs even though eliminated. This marks the fourth meeting of the season between these teams, with Benetton having won two of the previous three. When they met in Treviso for a regular season game back in November, Benetton beat Aris 64-42 with near-record defense: the Aris score total, which included a four-point final quarter, marked the third-lowest scoring by any team in a Euroleague game. This time, Aris will be without one of its big guns, Mike Wilkinson (12.3 ppg., 5.9 rpg.), who is sick and staying home in Thessaloniki. Since November, however, the Aris offense has changed as Alex Scales (15.3 ppg.) is the current Top 16 best scorer at 19.5 points per game. He is the cornerstone of a deep backcourt in which Giorgos Sigalas (2.7 ppg.) and Dimitris Tsaldaris (3.4 ppg.) are seeing extended playing time lately, with dangerous Savvas Iliadis (7.8 ppg., 41.2% 3FG) coming off the bench. Terrell Castle (9.8 ppg., 2.3 apg.) stays as the guests' floor general along with Georgios Kalaitzis (1.6 ppg.). Both players will have the tough mission to guard Nikos Zisis (10.9 ppg., 4.6 apg.) and Marco Mordente (9.5 ppg., 53.1% 3FG). Benetton wing players Matteo Soragna (6.9 ppg.) and Bryant Smith (3.6 ppg.) will test their defensive skills against Scales and Iliadis. Preston Shumpert (11.5 ppg., 53.8% 3FG) is set to share the scoring duties along with Zisis and Mordente, as injured guard Terrell Lyday (9.6 ppg.) is out for this game. Without Wilkinson, Aris will center its inside attack on Jeremiah Massey (12.8 ppg., 7.9 rpg.) even when Giannis Giannoulis (2.6 ppg., 2.6 rpg.) have been very effective off the bench. One or both of them can expect tough matchups with Marcus Goree (13.6 ppg., 6.4 rpg.), Spencer Nelson (8.6 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) and Angelo Gigli (6.9 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) but also help from the great help defense of their teammates. Expect a high-quality defensive battle in which only the strongest will survive.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007