|An all-Spanish showdown in Group C takes place on Thursday when DKV Joventut hosts Tau Ceramica in Badalona. The two teams just faced each other in the Spanish League last Thursday, also in Badalona. Tau downed Joventut 83-97 behind 24 points from Igor Rakocevic. Tiago Splitter added 21 and 12 rebounds, while Bracey Wright led Joventut with 22 points. Of course, stopping Rakocevic will be the main issue for DKV. Rakocevic is right at the prime of his career and currently is the Euroleague top scorer at 21.8 points per game, hitting 12 of 21 three-pointers and making all 19 free throws that he has attempted. Even with forward Pete Mickeal in doubt, Tau counts on a solid backcourt that features former Euroleague assists champion Pablo Prigioni, former Joventut swingman Sergi Vidal, playmaker Mustafa Shakur, small forward Fernando San Emeterio and combo guard Robert Hite, who missed last week's game against Joventut due to stomach problems, but is fully recovered. Prigioni is set to have a key matchup against Demond Mallet, as Joventut has no other pure playmaker available with Ricky Rubio still sidelined. Pau Ribas seems the right man to guard Rakocevic due to his intensity and quickness, while Wright will test his scoring skills against him. Ferran Laviña and Simas Jasaitis, who played for Tau last season, will share minutes at small forward against Vidal and San Emeterio. Meanwhile, Luka Bogdanovic has improved as the full-time power forward, as he can open the court with his three-point shots. And on the topic of three-pointers, few players are as effective as Tau power forward Mirza Teletovic. Edu Hernandez-Sonseca offers size and timing against Splitter, in yet another key matchup. If Hernandez-Sonseca gets into foul trouble, Henk Norel and Jan Jagla will see minutes at center, as Pops Mensah-Bonsu remains sidelined. Tau needs Splitter to play aggressive along with Will McDonald, who is having a career-best Euroleague season so far. Tau rolled in Badalona last week, not giving Joventut many chances. The hosts have surely learned from their mistake and both teams scored more than 100 points in the Spanish League this weekend. Expect a way different game this time around.
- Sharpshooter Simas Jasaitis will face a number of former teammates this week, as the forward won the Spanish League last season with Tau Ceramica. Jasaitis has played for four different teams in the last four seasons, including this one. In the past three years, he led each team to their domestic championship: Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania in 2006, Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel in 2007 and Tau in Spain last year.
- Forward Luka Bogdanovic made a Euroleague career-best 7 three-pointers and matched his career-high of 21 points in his last game. So far this season, Bogdanovic’s minutes and scoring has improved in every game so far.
- Guard Igor Rakocevic needs just 3 more steals to reach 100 for his Euroleague Basketball career.
- Center Tiago Splitter is 10 rebounds away from reaching 500 for his Euroleague Basketball career. He would be the 25th player to achieve that distinction.
- Tau Captain Sergi Vidal, who has spent the past eight seasons at Tau, began his career in Badalona. He made one appearance with the senior team at Joventut before signing for Tau, where he has been since.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008