|The pressure will be high at the Gdynia Sprts Arena on Wednesday when Asseco Prokom hosts Olympiacos Piraeus in Group E. Asseco Prokom enters the game 0-2 in the Top 16 and with a nine-game losing streak overall knowing that anything but a victory would essentially end the Polish champs’ hopes of reaching the Quarterfinal Playoffs for the first time. Meanwhile the Reds scored a crucial home win over Tau Ceramica last week to snap a three-game slide and must win in Poland to keep the momentum going as it looks to return to the quarterfinals. This marks the fifth season in a row in which these two teams will meet and Prokom boasts a 3-1 home record against Olympiacos in those clashes. Last season Prokom’s Week 12 win started a five-game losing streak for head coach Panagiotis Giannakis’s men that nearly ended Olympiacos’s season. But with reserve forward Filip Dylewicz the only Prokom player still on the roster that played in that game, it will have little impact on Wednesday’s match. One interesting note to this game will by newly signed Prokom forward Qyntel Woods facing his former foes after playing for the Reds last season. Woods’s success is crucial to his team’s hopes in this game. He teams with forwards Ronnie Burrell and Koko Archibong and big man Pat Burke to form the frontline that must stand up to Olympiacos’s deep rotation of big men Nikola Vujcic, Ioannis Bourousis, Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Zoran Erceg and forwards Panos Vasilopoulos and Georgios Printezis. The Reds also have a deeper backcourt with Yotam Halperin, Lynn Greer, Jannero Pargo, Theo Papaloukas and Milos Teodosic, but the addition of Tyrone Brazelton to David Logan and Dan Ewing gives head coach Tomas Pacesas more freedom with his guards. Olympiacos’s depth is not only an advantage in terms of having fresh players at the end of games or in the event of foul trouble, but the trouble it causes the opponents in scouting and preparing for so many players could do Prokom in. Neverthe less, with a savvy veteran like Burke anchoring the team inside, a trio of electrifying scorers on the perimeter and a number of gutsy players willing to step in when needed from the bench, Prokom has the makeup to cause an upset if Olympiacos doesn’t bring its ‘A’ game.
- Center Pat Burke has scored in double figures and recorded a steal in five straight appearances. He leads the Top 16 in rebounding with 9.5 per game.
- Forward Qyntel Woods will face his former team this week. Woods made his Euroleague debut last season with Olympiacos and played under its head coach Panagiotis Giannakis and alongside six of its current players.
- Guard David Logan has recorded at least 1 steal in 11 straight games this season. Logan has scored in double figures and drilled at least 1 three-pointer in seven straight games.
- Prokom bested Olympiacos 63-59 the last time these two teams met last January. Forward Filip Dylewicz is the only current Prokom players to play for the club in that game, although Qyntel Woods started for Olympiacos that night. Ioannis Bourousis netted 11 for the Reds in defeat.
- Guard Theo Papaloukas leads the Euroleague with 5 assists per game. He has recorded at least 4 assists in 13 consecutive Euroleague games dating back to last season’s Euroleague championship game.
- Papaloukas became the first player in Euroleague Basketball history to amass 250 career steals when he recorded 2 steals last week.
- Center Nikola Vujcic recorded the first triple-double of Euroleague Basketball history against Prokom in the 2005-06 season opener. Vujcic, then with Maccabi Tel Aviv, recorded 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in guiding his team to a 95-68 win. He was named MVP for the week after that performance.
- Guard Lynn Greer spent the 2003-04 season playing in Poland for Slask Wroclaw, with whom he led the Euroleague in scoring with 25.1 points per game as well as the Polish League with 20.4 points per game. Greer also helped Wroclaw win the 2004 Polish Cup and played in the 2004 Polish All-Star Game, where he was named MVP.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009