|A make-or-break fight to rejoin the Top 16 race in Group C is set to take place in Athens, Greece, where Maroussi BC hosts Union Olimpija on Wednesday. These teams are tied for fifth place in the group at 1-5, two wins behind fourth-placed Lottomatica Roma. Maroussi already downed Olimpija 75-81 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in Week 2, so the guests would be all but mathematically out of the Top 16 race if they lose in Athens. There is some good news for Maroussi, as center Stephen Arigbabu is ready to make his Euroleague debut in this 2009-10 season. With Levon Kendall sidelined, Arigbabu is set to balance his team's defense, sharing minutes with blue-collar big man Jared Homan and power forwards Pat Calathes and Dimitris Mavroeidis around the baskets. Mavroeidis has been unstoppable so far, posting outstanding numbers (11.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg.) off the bench. His post skills and determination will be a big factor in this game. Uros Slokar seems to be the right man to stop him, while Gasper Vidmar and Vladimir Golubovic are ready for a big fight in the paint against Homan and Arigbabu. Edin Bavcic can make the difference for Olimpija due to his toughness and shooting range, but Maroussi counts on Stevan Nadjfeji to open the court when needed. With Arigbabu back in the team, Maroussi superstar Kostas Kaimakoglou will see more minutes at small forward, with Jamon Lucas and Michalis Pelekanos sharing playing time at the wings. Pelekanos, a top defensive player, has the tough mission to stop Sani Becirovic, Olimpija's heart and soul right now due to his experience, leadership and talent. Kaimakoglou hopes to use his physical game and determination against Matt Walsh, the Euroleague's top scorer this season. Walsh is able to create is own shot and is simply unstoppable when he is on fire, but Kaimakoglou seems the right man to guard him due to his size and experience. Saso Ozbolt is ready for a big shootout against Lucas. Vlado Ilievski missed the game against Maccabi Electra and is doubtful against Maroussi. As such, Dusan Djordjevic and Jaka Klobucar will share the point guard duties - but Becirovic is set to see minutes at playmaker in crunch time. Klobucar is ready to use his quickness and defensive skills against Billy Keys in a key matchup in this game. Maroussi is very deep at point guard, as Igor Milosevic offers court sense and quickness off the bench. Meanwhile, combo guard Marios Batis thrives in crunch time, being a deadly shooter that wants the ball in any tough situation. Maroussi must be aggressive and stop Becirovic and Walsh to win a decisive game. Meanwhile, Olimpija must rely on Golubovic and Slokar to stop Mavroeidis and try to run the break whenever possible. Expect intensity, drama and passion, as one of these two teams may say goodbye to its Top 16 dreams as soon as on Wednesday.
REFEREES: Fabio Facchini, Milija Vojinovic, Zdravko Rutesic
Head coach Giorgos Bartzokas coached Olimpija player Matt Walsh in Greece at Olympia Larissa during the 2006-07 season.
Michalis Pelekanos matched a career high with 5 assists against Union Olimpija during a January 2006 game for AEK Athens. Pelekanos also posted 9 points and 4 steals in a 68-77 loss.
Pelekanos, who enters this game shooting 5 for 10 from downtown, has not made a two-pointer yet in 7 attempts.
Dimitrios Mavroeidis scored a season-high 18 points in a Week 2 win over Union Olimpija.
Pat Calathes scored a season-high 13 points in a Week 2 win over Union Olimpija. He has totaled 9 points in five other appearances this season.
Igkor Milosevits has yet to make a three-pointer in his Euroleague career. Entering his 11th game, Milosevits is 0 for 9 from downtown.
Matt Walsh was a teammate of Maroussi big man Stephan Arigbabu at Olympia Larissa during the 2006-07 season.
Olimpija head coach Jure Zdovc played for and coached Greek clubs during his career. He played for Iraklis and Panionios with great success in the 1990s and coached Iraklis during the 2005-06 season.
Sani Becirovic needs just 2 more assists to reach 20th place on the Euroleague’s career assists charts. He currently has 278 assists in 107 career games.
Walsh was named Week 2 MVP after scoring a season-high 32 points on 7-for-9 three-point shooting against Maroussi BC.
Walsh leads the league this season with 22 points scored per game and 17 three-pointers made.
Walsh has made multiple three-pointers in every game this season.
Vladimir Golubovic produced his first career double-double last week with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds against Maccabi.
Uros Slokar is last in the league among qualified players in three-point shooting will 1 made in 17 tries (5.9%).
Gasper Vidmar is last in the league in free throw shooting among qualified players with just 3 made in 14 tries for 21.4 %.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009