A fight for the second spot in Group F takes place in Sopot, Poland, where Prokom Trefl welcomes Winterthur FC Barcelona on Thursday. Prokom (1-2) plays two of its three Group F remaining games at home and has a good chance to carry on making history after having won the first Top 16 game ever by a Polish team. Meanwhile, Barcelona (2-1) will mathematically advance if it wins in Sopot as long as Panathinaikos also wins against Efes Pilsen in Istanbul. When they met in their Top 16 opener, Barcelona thrashed Prokom 92-73 behind 18 points from Gianluca Basile (10.6 ppg., 43.8% 3FG). Juan Carlos Navarro (17.7 ppg., 43% 3FG, 2.9 apg.), the current Euroleague's top scorer, was limited to a season-low 4 points in that game, so he will be motivated to do well in this rematch. Barcelona completes its backcourt with point guards Jaka Lakovic (10.8 ppg., 3.8 apg.) and Roko-Leni Ukic (4.7 ppg., 45.5% 3FG), combo guard Roger Grimau (3.4 ppg., 50% 3FG) and defensive stopper Rodrigo De La Fuente (3.9 ppg., 42.9% 3FG). Navarro and Basile will test their shooting skills against Donatas Slanina (10.5 ppg.), Christian Dalmau (11 ppg., 39.7% 3FG) and Jasmin Hukic (6.1 ppg.), while Lakovic and Ukic are ready for a tough battle against Rashid Atkins (7.5 ppg., 42.4% 3FG), who has become Prokom's full-time point guard in recent games. Barcelona's frontcourt continues to miss Mario Kasun (11.9 ppg.), who is expected to return to the team soon, but not against Prokom this week. As such, athletic big men Jordi Trias (6.9 ppg., 70% 2FG, 4.9 rpg.) and Fran Vazquez (5.8 ppg., 1.4 bpg.) are ready to carry on sharing most of the minutes at both frontcourt spots. Michalis Kakiouzis (6.9 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) will provide clutch, deep-range shooting and experience off the bench while Denis Marconato (6.2 ppg., 65.5% 2FG, 4.3 rpg.) will help Vazquez to stop Huseyin Besok (10.4 ppg., 4.8 rpg.), one of the most experienced centers around. Besok can put anyone in trouble with his set of post moves highlighted by his trademark turnaround jumper. Adam Wojcik (7.6 ppg.) and Michael Andersen (7.1 ppg., 57.9% 2FG) have the experience and talent that count most in big games, while Tomas Masiulis (4.4 ppg., 3.9 rpg.) and Filip Dylewicz (4.2 ppg.) are ready to provide dynamism and mobility to the mix. If Prokom manages to stop Navarro and get its shooters involved, it will increase its chances of adding a crucial win and thereby changing the dynamic of Group F.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007