Two teams from opposite sides of the Group C standings will try to bounce back from recent disappointments on Wednesday when Brose Baskets hosts defending champion Panathinaikos in Bamberg, Germany. The German champs enter the game in last place with a 1-7 record and are coming off tough 3-point loss at Chorale Roanne, which coach Dirk Bauermann’s charges had hoped would have turned their season around. Now two wins out of fifth place and down a tiebreaker to Roanne, every game is critical for Bamberg. Meanwhile the Greens are coming off their first loss of the season, an 18-point rude awakening in Rome. Bamberg caused problems for head coach Zeljko Obradovic’s men in their previous meeting, before Predrag Suput’s comeback attempts came short and the Greek champs prevailed 66-61 in Athens. That game was Panathinaikos’s lowest-scoring effort this season. The Greens are second in the Euroleague with 85.9 points per game, more than 20 points per game more than Bamberg, which has built its game around slowing down the tempo and iron defense. The importance of the game tempo is twofold, as a faster pace allows the very deep Panathinaikos bench to play a bigger role. Forwards Suput and Ademola Okulaja have been Bamberg’s most productive players this season, with the tandem of centers Darren Fenn and Chris Ensminger playing alongside them. They will go up against the likes of Mike Batiste, Andrija Zizic, Kostas Tsartsaris, Demos Dikoudis and small forward Kennedy Winston. It’s a similar situation in the backcourt, where playmaker Steffen Hamann, Demond Greene and Mark Dickel and swingman Robert Garrett must cope with Sarunas Jasikevicius, Vassilis Spanoulis, Sani Becirovic, Nikos Hatzvirettas and Dimitrios Diamantidis. What’s more, Bamberg is coming off an overtime road loss in the German League, which won’t help the side’s energy level. Panathinaikos enters the game as the clear favorite, especially coming off a surprising loss. The margin of error in Bamberg’s gameplan to grab a surprise is slim, as it calls for all the hosts’ prime players staying out of foul trouble, to stand tall on defense and to control the game at a slow pace. Even then, as Panathinaikos proved when they met in October, it may not be enough. But Bamberg is certain to give 100% in trying to make it happen.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007