Two Euroleague classic teams with very different goals in Group A meet in Greece on Wednesday when Olympiacos hosts Climamio Bologna. Olympiacos (6-2) is fighting to win Group A or, at least, to become the top-ranked second team at the end of the regular season, which carries the same weight in the Top 16 draw. Meanwhile, Climamio (2-6) is tied for seventh place, but won two of its last three games and is back in the Top 16 survival race. Olympiacos is the best rebounding team in the competition and the second-best scoring due to a run-and-gun offense that head coach Pini Gershon has made part of his basketball philosophy. Meanwhile, Climamio has slowed down its offense this season, looking for better options for star perimeter players Marco Belinelli (10.6 ppg.), Preston Shumpert (11 ppg.) and David Bluthenthal (17.1 ppg.), a face-up power forward who is the third-best scorer in the competition. It is a special game for Tyus Edney (11.5 ppg., 4 apg.), who visits Olympiacos for the first time since leading the Reds to the Quarterfinal Playoffs last season. Edney will have a tough test against Scoonie Penn (15.1 ppg., 3.6 apg.), while Belinelli will go against all-around guard Alex Acker (16.5 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 2.4 spg.), who has been virtually unstoppable so far, in one of the biggest matchups in this game. Shumpert and Stefano Mancinelli (7.6 ppg.) will share minutes at the small forward spot against Henry Domercant (13.3 ppg., 16.5% 3FG) and versatile big man Panos Vasilopoulos (5.4 ppg.). Defensive ace Alain Digbeu is set to make his Euroleague return with Climamio. Meanwhile, Daniele Cavaliero (3.4 ppg.) is expected to see his playing time extended, as Steffen Hamann (4.7 ppg.) remains questionable for this game. With Arvydas Macijauskas and Damir Mulaomerovic in the injured list, Christos Harissis will also see more minutes against Climamio. The Reds will have their frontcourt references in Andrija Zizic (16.4 ppg., 65.3% 2FG) and Sofoklis Schortsianitis (6.7 ppg.), a player able to change any game. Ryan Stack (4.6 ppg., 3.8 rpg.) and Giannis Bouroussis (7 ppg., 70.6% 2FG), who put up his biggest numbers all season in a road loss at Tau last week, will be ready to contribute, as well. Schortsianitis and Stack will test their rebounding skills against Vasco Evtimov (4.4 rpg.), who might see more time than usual because James Thomas (10.3 ppg., 9.1 rpg.), the Euroleague's second-ranked rebounder, missed an Italian League game and is questionable against Olympiacos. Bluthenthal will do what he does best, provide points, while veteran Dan Gay will offer his experience and know-how if required. Olympiacos is the favorite in this game but with a motivated Edney and a talented roster, Climamio wants to prove it is back completely and can beat anyone, anywhere.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006