|Veterans and upstars clash with survival and opportunity at stake, respectively, when Turk Telekom hosts Crvena Zvezda in Group J on Tuesday in the Turkish capital of Ankara. The more experienced hosts of Turk Telekom (0-2), who are desperate for a victory, have six key players 29 or older and only one, who sees just 7 minutes a game, born in 1986 or later. The younger visitors from Crvena Zvezda (2-0), who destroyed their last opponent by 30 points, have just one player as old as 29. They didn't miss a beat, either, when their top scorer of the regular season left prior to the Last 16. Instead, super-quick point guard Mike Taylor is picking up the scoring slack with a quartet of young big men - Nemanja Bjelica, Marko Keselj, Elmedin Kikanovic and Vladimir Stimac - who work side-by-side with veteran Oliver Stevic. Turk Telekom's home loss in overtime last week puts its back against the wall a bit, but resisting that pressure should be what having a veteran team is all about. In the backcourt, Tutku Acik and Demond Mallet are ready to feed and score, respectively, while in the paint, Erwin Dudley, Kris Lang and Huseyin Besok put up both scoring and rebounding numbers that keep games even. If anything, Turk Telekom's shooting will be an important factor, as only Mallett has cranked up with much accuracy from long distance in the first two Last 16 games. Help will be needed from Serkan Erdogan, Lamayne Wilson and Bekir Yarangume if the hosts are going to keep Crvena Zvezda's high-flying young guys honest and pull off a first win in the group. For the visitors, a key will be Taylor, an explosive scorer who nonetheless needs to keep the young scorers involved and cut down on turnovers for Crvena Zvezda to keep its momentum rolling. Statistically, these teams are not far apart except except on defense, where Turk Telekom is giving up an the second-most points of all Last 16 teams. Since Crvena Zvezda is scoring the third-most points while shooting among the top three teams in two-point and three-point accuracy, the hosts will have to lock down their D if they want to rejoin the Group J race now.
REFEREES: Andrej Jersan, Sergey Mikhaylov, Antonio Conde
Monday, February 08, 2010