|Real Madrid, the winningest team in European club basketball history, makes its debut in the 2008-09 Euroleague season by hosting difficult Panionios On Telecoms in the Spanish capital on Thursday at 20:45 CET. Both teams are facing injury problems at point guard, as Real Madrid starting playmaker Raul Lopez is very questionable for this week's game while Ivan Zoroski stayed in Greece. As such, Aaron Miles is set to see extended playing time on court in his Euroleague return after one-year absence. Ioannis Kalampokis is set to have him in the point guard duties. Meanwhile, Pepe Sanchez and up-and-coming combo guard Sergio Llull will share the playmaker duties for Madrid if Lopez does not step on court. Madrid is also having other injury problems in other positions, as small forward Marko Tomas is out for two weeks. With Tomas sidelined, scoring ace Louis Bullock is set to play an even bigger role in the game against Panionios, with Alex Mumbru see more time at small forward. Madrid also counts on Quinton Hosley, a force of nature, to play solid minutes at either forward spot. Kalampokis is set to test his defensive skills against Bullock, while Panionios will try to get Branko Cvetkovic involved. Panionios has a nice battery of big men to use against Madrid and its star forward, Felipe Reyes, who has been unstoppable in the Spanish League so far. Goran Nikolic and Miroslav Raicevic will see most minutes at power forward, offering deep range and experience. Veteran center Giannis Giannoulis and solid big man Lonny Baxter will make sure that Panionios can face Reyes and Lazaros Papadopoulos in the low post. Perhaps the biggest mismatch in this game may be Axel Hervelle, who can give Panionios trouble due his athleticism and quickness. Raicevic may become the right man to stop him due to his power and experience. Madrid also counts on power forward Jeremiah Massey, who teamed up inside with Giannoulis when he made his Euroleague debut with Aris two years ago. Even when Venson Hamilton is already healthy, coach Joan Plaza does not play to make him play big minute after several months sidelined. If Madrid runs the floor and gets its frontcourt involved, Panionios will be in trouble. The guests need to slow down the game tempo and get Baxter involved in the low post, so Miles will be the key player for that. Expect an interesting battle, as Panionios head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic lost a ULEB Cup final against Madrid in 2006 and will be looking for revenge.
Panionios On Telecoms
- Forward Jeremiah Massey led the Euroleague in rebounding last season with 8.5 per game. He was the rebounding runner-up the season before.
- Louis Bullock will make his 100th career Euroleague Basketball appearance in Real Madrid’s Week 1 game against Panionios. To date he has played 11 Euroleague games for Verona, 32 for Unicaja and 56 for Madrid. Bullock is also only 4 baskets away from reaching 500 for his career.
- Panionios On Telecoms returns to the major European competition after 11 years of absence. They played only once in that high lever, during the 1996-97 season, as they took the third place in the Greek League, under the guidance of Dusan Ivkovic. Then “Duda” left Panionios to take over the bench of Olympiacos and led the Reds to the European throne. Former coach of the Greek national team Efthimis Kioumourtzoglou succeeded him, but the team didn’t manage to have a good course and they finished with 4 wins and 8 losses in 12 games.
- Giannis Giannoulis is ready to mark an historic achievement, since he is the only Greek player who has a Euroelague’ s flavor with four different teams. The 32-year old center has participated in the major European competition under the jersey of PAOK Thessaloniki (2000-01) Panathinaikos (2001-02), Aris (2006-07) and now (2008-09) he appears with Panionios On Telecoms. Giannoulis was a member of the Euroleague winner Panathinaikos in the season 2001-02, but he didn’t make the Final Four, held in Bologna, due to some problems.
- Eight of the Panionios On Telecoms 14 players have already experienced the Euroleague. Goran Nikolic leads his teammates with 42 games, all played with Efes Pilsen, while Giannis Kalambokis comes second with 34 (Olympiacos 21, AEK 13) and Giannis Giannoulis third with 33 (PAOK 8, Panathinaikos 13, Aris 12). Aaron Miles has played 20 Euroleague games, Ivan Zoroski 13, Lonny Baxter, 11, Miroslav Raicevic 2 and Vassilis Xanthopoulos 1.
- Coach Aleksandar Trifunovic makes his second Euroleague appearance, since he coached Lietuvos Rytas during the 2007-08 season and had 13 wins and 7 losses in 20 games. Trifunovic led the Lithuanian team to the 2006-07 ULEB Cups’ final in Charleroi, where they lost to Real Madrid, 75-87.
- Panionios On Telecoms has played 201 games in seven different European competition with an overall record of 108 victories and 93 losses, including a 4-8 in their 1996-97 Euroleague participation. In two previous match-ups against Real Madrid at the 1991-92 European Cup Winners Cup, they lost twice, 74-88 at home and 71-87 on the road.
- Panionios on Telecoms has played 13 games in Spain, with a 4 wins-9 defeats record.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008