|Lottomatica Roma will look to avoid going winless in the Top 16 when it hosts Partizan Belgrade in a pivotal game for the visitors. Lottomatica, which has now lost seven straight, has a chance to be factor on the race for first place in Group G, even though head coach Nando Gentile’s troops’ season will end after this game. Partizan meanwhile will continue on the Quarterfinal Playoffs and must beat Roma to have any chance of winning the group and earning home-court advantage in the best-of-five playoffs. If Partizan wins and Unicaja beats Panathinaikos in a game that tips off simultaneous to this one, head coach Dusko Vujosevic’s men will win Group G and play Montepaschi Siena in the next stage. If Panathinaikos wins or Partizan loses, the Serbian champs will face CSKA Moscow without home-court advantage. Roma has struggled as of late, losing its last three games by an average of 26.3 points. However it lost by only 8 when it traveled to Partizan last month. Uros Tripkovic scored 20 to pace Partizan in that 84-76 win. Partizan has won four straight since starting the Top 16 with a loss. The pace of this game is a question mark since both team’s lead guards may not play. Sani Becirovic is sidelined for Roma, while Milenko Tepic is questionable for Partizan. Becirovic’s absence could mean more minutes for Brandon Jennings, who can team with Ibby Jaaber to give Roma a quick backcourt that could be trouble for Aleksandar Rasic and Uros Tripkovic. In the paint, however, Partizan enjoys a distinct advantage with February MVP Novica Velickovic leading a deep rotation that also features the league’s shots blocked leader Stephane Lasme, 2.29-meter center Slavko Vranes, teenage sensation Jan Vesely and Zarko Rakocevic, who is coming off the best game of his career. Roma will counter with Primoz Brezec, Andre Hutson and Angelo Gigli, but will be in trouble if fouls get the best of them. Roma shooter Ruben Douglas or small forward Rodrigo De la Fuente could also impact the game. Roma has all the tools to compete strong with Partizan, however their resent momentum makes Partizan the clear favorite. Nevertheless, if Tepic is out, all bets are off in what could shape up to be a fun game for all.
- Guard Jacopo Giachetti made his Euroleague debut against Partizan in the first game of the 2006-07 season. He drew 5 fouls and shot a perfect 8 for 8 from the line for his best free-throw shooting game in the Euroleague.
- Guard Brandon Jennings had his best-scoring Euroleague game so far with 17 points in last week’s loss at Unicaja.
- Center Primoz Brezec had his best performance of the season against Partizan when they met last month. He finished with a season-high 19 points on 8-of-9 two-point shooting and 5 rebounds for a 20 index, though he fouled out in 28 minutes.
- Forward Novica Velickovic has had modest success against Lottomatica in his career. He recorded his first Euroleague double-double against the club in a November 2007 victory and scored a Euroleague career-high 22 points in Roma in a 1-point loss later that season. His only double-double this season came against Roma too with 19 points and 10 rebounds last month.
- Guard Uros Tripkovic has made at least one three-pointer in 13 consecutive Euroleague games. He is shooting 44.4% from downtown over that span. He is tied for the Top 16 lead with 16 triples
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- Big man Stephane Lasme has blocked a shot in seven consecutive games. He is tied for the league lead with 1.8 blocks per game this season.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009