|A pivotal battle to win Last 16 Group J is expected in Jerusalem, Israel, where Hapoel welcomes Power Electronics Valencia on Tuesday at 18:00 CET. Both teams tie for first place, each with a 3-1 record. Hapoel will make it to the next round with a win, and will clinch first place - and therefore get the home court advantage in the two-way Quarterfinals - if it downs Power VLC and Galatasaray Cafe Crown tops Unics. Power VLC will seal its ticket to the next round with a win in Jerusalem combined with a Galatasaray triumph against Unics. Hapoel already beat Power Electronics 75-79 in Valencia - handing its opponent its only home loss in five Eurocup seasons. Hapoel, however, may be without Dijon Thompson, who is questionable for this game, even when he is expected to step on court. If Thompson is not 100%, Tre Simmons will have extended reponsabilities at both wings along with little-used combo guard Pooh Jeter. As usual, Hapoel will play several minutes with twin point guards, using Yuval Naimy and Yogev Ohayon together on court. If available, Thompson will have to make the most out of his athleticism against Power VLC star guard Rafa Martinez. Meanwhile, Simmons faces a critical matchup against Victor Claver. Power VLC is really deep at both wings, as Thomas Kelati can offer athleticism, defense and outside shooting while Flo Pietrus can see minutes at small forward due to his defense and experience - even when he will see most playing time as his usual backup role at power forward. Naimy has the chance to test his talent and court vision against Nando De Colo. Meanwhile, Marko Marinovic must use his experience and quickness against Ohayon. The battle in the paint will probably be the biggest key to this game. Power VLC relies on Kosta Perovic to offer post skills and size, but can count on Serhiy Lishchuk to offer blocked shots, intensity, aggresiveness and the occasional three-pointer. Matt Nielsen relies on his high basketball IQ, experience and know-how to open the court at power forward. Perovic and Lishchuk have the tough mission to stop Brandon Hunter, who comes off a very good game against Unics. Meanwhile, Nielsen is ready to use his deep range and experience against physical big man Kevinn Pinkney. Sharon Shason may see extended playing time against Nielsen, as he had a terrific game in Game 1 in Valencia. Blue-collar forward Uri Kokia is ready to battle against Nielsen and Pietrus in the low post. Hapoel must play physical, run the floor and get Simmons involved. Power VLC needs a good game from Nielsen and Perovic, as well as opening the court with Martinez and Kelati together on court. Expect nothing but an outstanding Eurocup game in the Holy City on Tuesday.
REFEREES: Costas Mouzakis, Murat Biricik, Carmelo Paternico
Monday, March 01, 2010