|Alba Berlin will look to give its fans a thankyou present as it hosts Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv on Thursday in the final Euroleague home game of its season and the last Euroleague game at the o2 World before this season’s Final Four. The game could be a tension-filed thriller if Real Madrid (4-0) manages to beat Regal FC Barcelona (3-1) on Wednesday in another Group F encounter, as it would be do-or-die for Maccabi (1-3). If Barca loses, Maccabi would remain alive for a Quarterfinal Playoffs berth by beating Berlin and would then host Barca next week with a spot in the playoffs on the line. However if Barcelona wins Wednesday, Maccabi will see its hopes vanish. Alba is winless thus far in the Top 16 and has dropped five in a row overall. The German champs are coming off a 57-75 loss against Barcelona that was their worst result to date at the o2 World. The visitors dominated the paint and outrebounded Berlin 21-34 as they costed to the win. Maccabi fell short 69-73 at home against Madrid to suffer its third loss in a row with the lone bright spot being Carlos Arroyo’s Euroleague career-high 26 points. Maccabi enters this game short-handed with big man D’Or Fischer sidelined due to facial injuries. The game is a clash in styles as Maccabi likes to push the ball and has averaged 80.3 points per game this season, while Berlin prefers a slower pace and is averaging 69 points per game. Maccabi controlled the pace when the teams met in the Top 16 opener in January, winning 96-65 behind 22 and 21 points, respectively, from Lior Eliyahu and Fischer. The battle in the backcourt could once again determine the outcome. Arroyo, who dished a season-high 10 assists against Berlin, leads the Maccabi guard rotation, that also features Marcus Brown at shooting guard and Dee Brown and Derrick Sharp off the bench. Berlin turns to Steffen Hamann, Julius Jenkins and Rashad Wright to share ball-handling duties, while Casey Jacobsen and Immanuel McElroy bring firepower from the wings. Omri Casspi and Tal Burstein are head coach Pini Gershon’s main options at small forward. The power forward matchup promises to be interesting as Eliyahu faces Ansu Sesay, one of the few players in the competition that can match him for speed and size. With Fischer out, Charles Gaines stands to see a lot if time at center, where he’ll encounter Adam Chubb, Aleksandar Nadjfeji and Blagota Sekulic. The result of Wednesday’s game could be the determining factor in Berlin. If Maccabi has what to play for, it will be the aggressor and the favorite against Berlin, but if its fate has been determined, Berlin’s chances to win for the last time at home grow.
- Alba has just a single win in its entire history over Maccabi. It took place in its debut Euroleague season, more than 12 years ago, with a 70-65 win in Berlin.
- Guard Casey Jacobsen has made at least 1 three-pointer in nine straight Euroleague games. He is shooting 45% from downtown in that stretch.
- Vujcic scored at least 20 points in both of his last two games. It marked the first time he has reached the 10-point mark in back-to-back games since the 2006-07 regular season.
- Head coach Luka Pavicevic has used the same starting five – Steffen Hamann, Immanuel McElroy, Casey Jacobsen, Ansu Sesay and Adam Chubb – in 13 out of 14 Euroleague games this season.
- Guard Tal Burstein is closing in on 1,000 points for his Euroleague Basketball career. He enters this week’s game against Alba Berlin with 991 points in 138 career games. He also needs just 2 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career.
- Guard Marcus Brown needs 29 more points to become the first player in Euroleague Basketball history to reach the 2,500-point mark for his career.
- Guard Carlos Arroyo scored a Euroleague career-high 26 points in his team’s loss against Real Madrid last week.
- Forward Lior Eliyahu and injured center D’Or Fischer were two of the trio of weekly MVPs when Maccabi beat Berlin in Week 1 of the Top 16. Eliyahu posted 22 points and 8 rebounds in that win.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009