|Two teams highly motivated to make some noise in the Top 16 tip off on Thursday when Armani Jeans Milano hosts Olympiacos. Both teams made last minute additions to their squads this week to prepare for the Top 16. The hosts added playmaker Hollis Price and power forward Maurice Taylor, while the Reds inked combo guard Jannero Pargo. The moves help offset the teams’ respective injuries. Sniper Marco Moredente is out with a broken hand for Milano and Olympiacos misses Josh Childress, who needed a hernia operation. Armani Jeans was already riding high after winning five of its last six games in the regular season to cruise into the Top 16. The team has done so by playing hard and playing as a team. Price has not had much time to adjust to his new teammates, but he brings scoring, ball-handling, passing and leadership to the backcourt, where he will team with the likes of David Hawkins, Jobey Thomas, Luca Vitali and veteran Massimo Bulleri. However Olympiacos is just as deep with Lynn Greer, Theo Papaloukas, Yotam Halperin, Milos Teodosic and Pargo. Taylor joins Pape Sow, Mason Rocca and Mindaugas Katelynas on the Milano frontline, creating an opportunity for Mike Hall to play more at small forward. Still the hosts must buckle down to handle Nikola Vujcic, Ioannis Bourousis, Zoran Erceg and Sofoklis Schortsanitis inside. Georgios Printezis, Panos Vasilopoulos and even Michalis Pelekanos could see a bump in their minutes with Childress out. While Olympiacos enjoys greater depth, Milano’s new members strengthen the team in that category and head coach Piero Bucchi’s men have already shown that they can handle deeper squads with regular season wins over Real Madrid and CSKA. Milano will aim to get help from the crowd, which has helped it win four straight at home, and keep the game close until the closing minutes, where its players have shown the makeup to rise to the occasion. However Olympiacos will be no pushover, looking to use its speed and strength to wear down the home team. The result in the game will set the tone for these two teams in Group E and both teams will be giving 100% to make sure they start on the right foot.
Armani Jeans Milano
- Guard Luca Vitali erupted for 7 three-pointers and 32 points – both career highs – in his last visit to Greece, against Panionios On Telecoms in the regular season finale.
- Guard David Hawkins was a college teammate of Olympiacos’s Lynn Greer at Temple University. They played together for two seasons from 2000 to 2002. Greer and Hawkins were first and second, respectively, in scoring and assists in for the Owls in that second season.
- Armani Jeans’s two newest signings, point guard Hollis Price and power forward Maurice Taylor, are expected to make their debuts with the team on Thursday.
- Guard Theo Papaloukas led the Euroleague in the regular season with 5 assists per game. He has recorded at least 4 assists in 11 consecutive Euroleague games dating back to last season’s Euroleague championship game.
- Papaloukas needs 5 more steals to become the first player in Euroleague Basketball history to amass 250 career steals.
- Guard Lynn Greer played under current Armani Jeans Milano head coach Piero Bucchi at Eldo Napoli in the 2005-06 season. Greer led the Italian League in scoring with 23.5 points per game that season. Milano center Mason Rocca was also a teammate of Greer’s at Milano.
- The longest game of center Nikola Vujcic’s lengthy career came against Armani Jeans Milano. Vujcic, then with Maccabi Tel Aviv, played just over 48 minutes in Maccabi’s 96-95 double overtime win over Milano in December 2005. He finished that game with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
- Newly signed guard Jannero Pargo is expected to make his debut with Olympiacos against his former teammate in Dynamo Moscow, Hollis Price, who joined Armani Jeans this week.
- The Reds faced Milano for the first time in the Champions Cup in 1996-97, in two thrilling games. They lost on the road 71-73 and won at home, 84-75, on the way to winning the trophy at the Final Four in Rome.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009