Bizkaia Bilbao Basket hosts Spartak Saint Petersburg in Week 2 with sole possession of first place in Group E at stake. Bilbao comes in after winning on the road at Spirou Basket by the convincing score of 67-80, while Spartak has already shown it has the mettle to pull of the tight victory by holding off Turk Telecom 85-83 on opening day. Besides having the support of their loyal home fans, the hosts also have one of the deepest rosters in the entire Eurocup. For Bilbao, there is no real difference between starter and substitute as evidenced in the court time divvied up in Week1. Ten Bilbao players logged over 10 minutes apiece in route to victory and Spartak can expect the same waves of fresh legs rotating in and out versus Bilbao this week. Spartak also has options to draw on from its bench, but the visitors will surely need big outings from their main guns to have thoughts of heading back to Saint Petersburg with the huge road win. Although both teams are well-balanced, the main battle will be fought at the forward position, where both squads pack their biggest offensive punch. Bilbao deploys star Marko Banic who combined with fellow-forward Alex Mumbru for 30 points in Week 1. Damir Markota and Robert Conley also bring more scoring and power to the table for Bilbao. Spartak counters with starters James White, who led his team with 20 points versus Turk Telecom, and do-everything Yahor Meshcharakou, while Milovan Rakovic comes off the bench to shoot the ball. In the low post, Aleksandr Dedushkin and Goran Suton will be charged with keeping Bilbao’s Salva Guardia, who has deceptively good ball-handling for a big man, and high-jumper Jerome Moiso in check. Not to be outdone, the two backcourts will also be sure to offer fireworks. Spartak’s Levance Fields had a nice all-round game last week with 13 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds, and his partner Zakhar Pashutin and reserve guard Aleksey Zozulin combined for 26 points and 7 boards. Bilbao may have less scoring power on the perimeter, but its guards are excellent floor generals. Javi Rodriguez and shooting guard Renaldas Seibutis started last week, but it was Javi Salgado who racked up 10 points and 6 assists in a reserve role. Spartak’s guards will need to not only score the ball, but also disrupt the Bilbao offense at the point of attack in the backcourt to dream of the road win.
REFEREES: Shmuel Bachar, Luis Lopes, Nicola Maestre
Monday, November 30, 2009