|Two teams with a common goal are ready to battle each other in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where Union Olimpija hosts Alba Berlin in a Group C showdown on Thursday. Olimpija is still looking for its first win, while Alba is fifth in Group C with a 2-2 record. Alba travels to Slovenia without scoring ace Julius Jenkins, so three-point threat Casey Jacobsen and do-it-all swingman Immanuel McElroy will see extended time on court and Phillip Zweiner and versatile forward Aleksandar Nadjfeji could also seeing playing time at the wings. Olimpija does not expect forwards Jasmin Hukic and Marko Milic to play, but signed Ivica Jurkovic to step up at the '4' spot. Without Hukic around, Saso Ozbolt and Jaka Klobucar will share minutes at shooting guard, testing their shooting skills against Jacobsen. Meanwhile, Damjan Rudez and Frank Robinson seem the right men to guard McElroy. Vlado Ilievski is expected to play despite his physical problems, as playmaker Jonathan Wallace was released last week. He will be his team's full-time point guard against Rashad Wright and Steffen Hamann. Olimpija, however, is really deep around the baskets and the addition of Jurkovic proves it. Mirza Begic has been unstoppable so far this season while Vladimir Golubovic underwent an adjustment period and is now ready to offer post skills and power. Center Miha Zupan is ready to come off the bench to provide rebounds and deep range as a great complement for either Golubovic or Begic. Alba has center Patrick Femerling back, ready to guard Begic. Ansu Sesay is set to test his all-around skills against Zupan, while Adam Chubb and former Olimpija forward Dragisa Drobnjak fill out the frontline. Olimpija needs to slow down the game tempo and get its frontcourt involved, as Golubovic and Begic are quite effective in the low post. Meanwhile, Alba needs to play pressure on Ilievski, as Olimpija has no other point guard available, as well as trying to run the break with McElroy as its key player. As usual, the basketball atmosphere will be nothing but extraordinary in the Slovenian capital, so expect an exciting and intense game in Ljubljana.
- Guard Vlado Ilievski’s next steal will give him 150 for his Euroleague Basketball career. He ranks 12th among active players in that category.
- Big man Vladimir Golubovic played under current Alba Berlin head coach Luka Pavicevic on the Serbia and Montenegro national team at the under-20 European championships in 2005 in Russia. That team took home the bronze medal. Current teammate Mirza Begic (Slovenia) and Damjan Rudez (Croatia) as well as Phillip Zwiener (Germany) of Alba Berlin also took part in the tourney.
- Forward Dragisa Drobnjak returns to Ljubljana this week. Drobnjak played two seasons for Olimpija between 2004 and 2006, helping the club win a pair of Slovenian League titles and two Slovenian Cups. This will be the first time facing his former club since leaving. Olimpija has undergone a total overhaul since Drobnjak was here and the only player on the current roster that he played with is Saso Ozbolt.
- Alba Berlin has lost 14 consecutive Euroleague games on the road dating back to October 2002. The last road win for Berlin was against AEK Athens.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008