|A pivotal game in the Group C standings takes place in the Italian capital on Thursday when Lottomatica Roma hosts CSKA Moscow. Lottomatica has seen better days, having dropped three straight Euroleague games and six overall. Head coach Nando Gentile’s men are now in fourth place in Group C with a 3-3 mark, but only one win away from second place. CSKA is tied with Caja Laboral for second place at 4-2. Arguably Roma’s biggest win of the season came back in Week 2 in Moscow when Andre Hutson scored 15 to lead Lottomatica to a 69-74 road win over CSKA. The Russian champs have won their last three Euroleague games and showed with wins at Maroussi and Laboral that they are more than equipped to win on the road. CSKA also has a different look than it did last time against Roma. Sasha Kaun has produced two very nice games as starting center and Viktor Khryapa has become a game-changer as a point forward. When they produce alongside J.R. Holden, Trajan Langdon and Ramunas Siskauskas, CSKA is tough to beat. Dmitry Sokolov could be back to help Kaun in the middle this week against Roma. The hosts have been short-handed since Angelo Gigli went down, leaving reserve Andrea Crosariol as their only true center. Accordingly, CSKA’s pivotmen may find the likes of the smaller Herve Toure or Alessandro Tonolli guarding them. Hutson and Khryapa present a promising matchup at power forward. Both teams feature deep backcourts, with Roma led by Ibby Jaaber in addition to Luca Vitali, Jacopo Giachetti and Ricky Minard plus Kennedy Winston at small forward. Winston will find himself in a crucial duel against former MVP Siskauskas, while Vitali matches up against Zoran Planinic in another guard matchup. With Holden looking to silence Jaaber and Langdon out to top Minard, it’s clear that a number of individual matchups could produce the winner. Ultimately the battle inside could be the determining factor. Unless Crosariol can hang in for 30-plus minutes, Roma must use its smaller, faster lineup to its advantage, trying to run with Kenendy, Toure and Hutson to generate east points. If Holden or Planinic can control the ball and set up more halfcourt sets, CSKA could be tough to stop.
REFEREES: Juan Carlos Mitjana, Spiros Gkontas, Elias Koromilas
Kennedy Winston has scored in double figures in six consecutive Euroleague appearances.
Ibby Jaaber made his Euroleague debut in Moscow against CSKA in February 2008. He scored 12 points that night, but CSKA won 72-71 on a Trajan Langdon buzzer-beater.
Ricky Minard scored a season-high 15 points on 3-for-4 three-point shooting in last week’s game at Caja Laboral.
Herve Toure scored a season-high 13 points in a Week 2 win over CSKA in Moscow.
Andre Hutson scored a season-high 13 points in a Week 2 win over CSKA in Moscow.
Luca Vitali has made 10 consecutive free throws over his past five Euroleague appearances.
Trajan Langdon needs 5 more three-pointers to become the sixth player in Euroleague Basketball history to make 300 triples in his career.
Langdon has made 18 consecutive free throws over his past six Euroleague games.
Langdon sank a famous buzzer-beating triple to beat Lottomatica 72-71 in the Top 16 opener in February 2008. He led CSKA with 22 points that night.
Zoran Planinic needs 1 more assist to reach Marko Popovic for 25th place on the Euroleague career assists charts. He currently has 265 career assists.
Planinic scored a season-high 22 points in Week 2 against Lottomatica. He made 5 of 6 two pointers, 2 of 4 threes, 6 of 6 free throws and had 7 rebounds in that contest. In the other five games this season, Planinic has scored a total of 20 points on 7 of 15 two-pointers, 0 for 7 threes and 8 rebounds.
Viktor Khryapa needs just 4 more blocked shots to reach the career top 10 in that category. He enters this game in 14th place with 76 blocks from 78 games.
Khryapa has at least 1 steal in each of his last eight Euroleague appearances.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009