|Efes Pilsen hopes to make the most of its last chance to make it to the Top 16 from Group B when it visits Entente Orleanaise Loiret on Wednesday night. Efes needs to beat Orleans and wait for Unicaja to down Lietuvos Rytas to advance to the Top 16. Orleans is out of the Top 16 race, but has the chance to finish fifth if it downs Efes by at least 14 points. Efes arguably has a deeper frontcourt in what could be one of the keys to this game. Mario Kasun and Daniel Santiago will likely share the minutes at center along with little-used big man Ermal Kuqo. Head coach Ergin Ataman likes to open the floor using Bostjan Nachbar or Preston Shumpert at power forward, but the latter is doubtful to appear in the game due to problems with an eye. Nachbar seems the right man to guard Justin Doellman due to his size, quickness and versatility. Santiago is ready for a physical test against Ryvon Covile, while Kasun must use his strength and timing against up-and-coming center Ludovic Vaty. Adrien Moerman will try to change the game rhythm with his intensity and shooting range off the hosts' bench. Efes must be very concerned with stopping Cedrick Banks, who has averaged 21 points in his team's last two games – both wins. On top of everything, defensive ace SinanGuler will be out due to stomach muscle problems. Banks will get some help from athletic small forward Tony Dobbins, swingman Austin Nichols and defensive ace William Herve. Banks has the chance to test his scoring skills against two-time Alphonso Ford trophy winner Igor Rakocevic. Dobbins must use all his defensive skills against experienced shooter Bootsy Thornton. Nichols has a very interesting matchup against Charles Smith. With Ender Arslan questionable for this week's game, Kerem Tunceri will see more minutes at point guard, with Guler backing him up. Tunceri must use his experience and talent against Aldo Curti, while Guler must stop Orleans' silent leader Laurent Sciarra, who comes off the bench to offer court sense and determination. Efes must get its many shooters involved and power the offensive boards to get that important win. Orleans must play up-tempo and run its offense through Banks and Doellman to get its third consecutive win - the best way possible to wave goodbye to its 2009-10 Euroleague season.
REFEREES: Zoran Sutulovic, Spiros Gkontas, Gianluca Mattioli
Cedrick Banks scored a season-high 23 points last week in a road win at Unicaja.
Juston Doellman scored a season-high 18 points last week in a road win at Unicaja.
Ten different players have appeared in the Entente Orleanaise starting lineup this season. Aldo Curti is the only Orleans player to start all nine games.
Tony Dobbins has recorded a steal in six consecutive games.
Adrien Moerman has blocked a shot in four straight games.
Laurent Sciarra is 10 for 10 from the free throw line over his last four games.
Igor Rakocevic is closing in on a spot among the top career Euroleague scorers. He enters Week 10 in 11th place with 1,868 career points, hoping to catch Real Madrid’s Louis Bullock (10th, 1,891 points), CSKA Moscow’s Trajan Langdon (ninth, 1,892 points) and David Andersen (eighth, 1894).
Kaya Peker needs 5 more rebounds to crack the Euroleague career top 20 rebounding list. He has 607 career boards and is looking to catch former CSKA center Aleksey Savrasenko.
Peker scored a season-high 18 points last week in the loss against Olympiacos.
Charles Smith has recorded at least 1 steal in eight straight games.
Eleven different players have appeared in the Efes Pilsen starting lineup this season.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010