|Two domestic champions face each other in a pivotal game in Group A when Montepaschi welcomes Asvel Basket to Siena, Italy, on Wednesday. Montepaschi has already reached the Top 16, but can assure itself at least second place if it wins and Fenerbahce Ulker loses in Zagreb. Meanwhile, Asvel will clinch a Top 16 spot if it steals a road win in Siena and FB Ulker beats Cibona. Asvel has won three in a row, but Montepaschi has only lost a handful of home games - to Barcelona, CSKA and twice against Panathinaikos- in the last three years. Asvel will be once again without Curtis Borchardt, so it will have to opt for a smaller, more dynamic lineup in which Ali Traore and Victor Samnick play a major role around the baskets. Asvel has a very deep frontcourt, with Bangaly Fofana offering size and defense, Eric Campbell ready to provide shooting range and post skills and Kristjan Kangur adding versatility and determination. Traore has the tough mission to face Ksistof Lavrinovic, who will try to open the court with his three-point shooting. Campbell has a key matchup against Shaun Stonerook, another experienced big man with soft touch and high basketball IQ. Samnick has to use his physical skills and athleticism against Benjamin Eze. Asvel's main concern, however, will be stopping two-time All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre, who already led his team to rally from a 21-point deficit to beat the French champs in Lyon. McIntyre and Nikos Zisis are ready to share the point guard duties against Bobby Dixon and Aymeric Jeanneau. It takes a team effort to stop McIntyre. Romain Sato earned Week 3 MVP honors against Asvel and is ready to keep playing physical and aggressive against Ben Dewar and Laurent Foirest. Sato will share playing time at the wings with David Hawkins and sharpshooter Henry Domercant. Sato, however, is set to face a new defender, swingman Rawle Marshall, who has led the guests on their current winning streak. Hawkins faces a tough defender in Mindaugas Lukauskis, while Domercant is set to test his shooting skills against Foirest. Asvel must keep playing hard and try to run the floor with Dixon, Lukauskis and Marshall together on court. Meanwhile, Montepaschi must run its offense through McIntyre and use its outstanding defense and ball circulation against Asvel. Montepaschi is always the favorite at home, but you can expect a red-hot Asvel to fight for 40 minutes with hopes of an upset.
REFEREES: Srdan Dozai, Sasa Maricic, Oskars Lucis
Henry Domercant has made 36 consecutive free throws over his past 20 Euroleague games.
Ben Eze needs just 1 more block to crack the top 10 on the Euroleague’s career shot-blocking charts. He is now tied with Real Madrid’s Jorge Garbajosa for 11th place with 79 career blocks. Marcus Haislip sits in 10th place.
All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre has drilled at least one three-pointer in 23 consecutive Euroleague games.
Romain Sato was named the Week 3 MVP after scoring a career-high 33 points in a win over Asvel Basket. Sato also had 6 rebounds and 2 steals for a 37 index
David Hawkins scored a season-high 20 points last week at Zalgiris.
Mindaugas Lukauskas was a teammate of Montepaschi big man Ksistof Lavrinovic on the Lithuanian national team at EuroBasket 2009 this summer.
Lukauskis has recorded at least 1 steal in each of his last nine Euroleague appearances.
Bobby Dixon scored a season-high 20 points in a Week 3 loss against Montepaschi.
Aymeric Jeanneau dished a season-high 5 assists off the bench against Montepaschi in Week 3.
Kristjan Kangur scored a season-high 16 points last week in a road win at Fenerbahce Ulker.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009