|A classic Euroleague showdown is set to take place in Barcelona, Spain, where Regal FCB welcomes Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv on Thursday night. These teams have faced each other some 25 times in Europe's top competitions, most remarkably in the 1991 and 2000 Euroleague semifinals and in last season's Quarterfinal Playoffs. Barcelona lost against archrivals Real Madrid last week and needs to start winning right away to stay in the playoffs race. Meanwhile, Maccabi thrashed Alba Berlin and is looking to register its second win. Barcelona faces injury problems with Jaka Lakovic sidelined with a reparatory problem, which thrusts Victor Sada and Andre Barrett into the spotlight. Sada has a key matchup against Carlos Arroyo, who dished 10 assists against Alba last week. Meanwhile, Barrett must stop Dee Brown, who made a successful Euroleague debut last week. The biggest matchup of the night may be between super scorers Marcus Brown of Maccabi and Juan Carlos Navarro of Regal FCB. Both are proven all-around scorers and have faced each other many times. Brown will share playing times at both wings with veteran clutch shooter Derrick Sharp, experienced swingman Tal Burstein and small forwards Omri Casspi and Tre Simmons. Casspi will lock horns in a key matchup against Lubos Barton, while Brown and Burstein will have to fight against Roger Grimau and Gianluca Basile, arguably one of the best defensive shooting guards in Europe, who is also ready to pull the trigger from downtown. The battle in the paint will be interesting, especially now that Maccabi added intense power forward Charles Gaines, an extraordinary rebounder. Lior Eliyahu and D'or Fischer will be head coach Pini Gershon’s main frontcourt references along with backup big man Yaniv Green. Eliyahu has the tough mission to face an extraordinary defender in Ersan Ilyasova. Meanwhile, Fischer will try to go against the hosts' starting center Daniel Santiago. Barcelona is deeper around the baskets, with athletic forward Fran Vazquez and former All-Euroleague center David Andersen coming off the bench. Both Vazquez and Andersen are mobile big men with deep range that could change the game. Maccabi must be its usual self in offense, with a run-and-gun offense that always starts with Arroyo, as he tries to keep everyone involved. Barcelona needs Sada to stop him, as well as using its frontcourt depth to create miss-matches down low. A fully-packed Palau Blaugrana should generate a strong basketball atmosphere for this extraordinary Top 16 game in which the fans will be the true winners.
Regal FC Barcelona
- Barca has won nine consecutive home games dating back to the end of the regular season last year.
- Forward Lubos Barton has not missed a two-point attempt in his last seven games. He is 10 for 10 over that stretch.
- Barton dished a Euroleague career-high 7 assists against Maccabi when he played for Joventut in a 98-92 win in January 2007.
- Guard Victor Sada dished at least 2 assists in his last six Euroleague games, but has not score a field goal since Week 8.
- Guard Gianluca Basile recorded his Euroleague career-high of 34 points in Barcelona’s 83-74 win over Maccabi in Game 2 of last season’s Quarterfinal Playoffs.
- Basile has knocked down a three pointer in each of his last six Euroleague games.
- Center Fran Vasquez has recorded four different career highs against Maccabi, all of them in the quarterfinals series last season. He grabbed 8 defensive rebounds in Game 2 and had 7 offensive rebounds, 13 total rebounds and played 38 minutes in Game 3.
- Forward Ersan Ilyasova amassed four Euroleague career highs in Game 1 of the Quarterfinal Playoffs series last year against Maccabi in Tel Aviv: 21 points scored, 6 offensive rebounds, 33 minutes played and an index rating of 28.
- The first time Daniel Santiago played against Maccabi was more than nine years ago, on January 21, 1999, as the Varese Roosters outscored Maccabi 100-96 behind 11 points and 10 rebounds by Santiago.
- Maccabi big men D’Or Fischer and Lior Eliyahu were two of the three weekly MVPs last week. Fischer recorded 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Eliyahu had 22 points and 8 rebounds.
- Eliyahu and guard Marcus Brown are both on a streak of seven straight games with double-figures in points.
- Brown once played 50 minutes – every minute of a double-overtime loss for Efes Pilsen against Barcelona in an October 2002 loss to Barcelona.
- Guard Tal Burstein is closing in on 1,000 points for his Euroleague Basketball career. He enters this week’s game against Barcelona with 989 points in 135 career games. He also needs just 2 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career.
- Burstein played one of the best games of his Euroleague career on the road at Barcelona in December 2005. Burstein recorded 24 points and a 32 index rating in 39 minutes – all Euroleague career highs in a 78-88 Maccabi win.
- Big man Charles Gaines could make his first Euroleague appearance for Maccabi this week. He will play against his former teammate, Lubos Barton. They played side by side for DKV Joventut Badalona in the 2006-07 season.
- Maccabi qualified for the 2008 Final Four by eliminating Barcelona 2-1 in the Quarterfinals Playoffs. Only four Maccabi players from that series – Tal Burstein, Omri Casspi, Lior Eliyahu and Derrick Sharp – are still on the team.
- Omri Casspi had one of the best games of his young career last season in Game 2 of the Quarterfinal Playoffs in Barcelona. He recorded the only double-double of his Euroleague career with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He set career highs with 8 defensive rebounds, 10 total rebounds, 30 minutes played and an index rating of 27.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009