It's been a long time since either Olympiacos Piraeus
or Partizan Belgrade
have sniffed a Euroleague title game, but one of them will make it there on Friday. Olympiacos battles Partizan in the second game of the 2010 Euroleague Basketball Final Four at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy on Friday night for the right to face the winner of the opening game between CSKA Moscow and Regal FC Barcelona for the Euroleague crown. Olympiacos has not won a Euroleague semifinal since 1997, the year it won its only Euroleague title. Partizan has not been to a title game since 1992, the year it won its lone Euroleague championship. That will change for one of these teams on Friday and both have shown all season long that they have the talent to get the job done. Olympiacos arrives in Paris with a deep and talented squad that features three former Euroleague champs and eight players that took part in last season's Final Four. Head coach Panagiotis Giannakis's team boasts three All-Euroleague candidates in playmaker Milos Teodosic
and forwards Josh Childress
and Linas Kleiza
. Partizan hits the Final Four as the only team to overcome the lack of homecourt advantage to reach the Final Four this year, eliminating Maccabi Electra in the process. The Serbian champs have the only defending champion still in the running this season, Dusan Kecman
, who won it all last year with Panathinaikos. Head coach Dusko Vujosevic's team is led by All-Euroleague candidates Bo McCalebb
at point guard and Aleks Maric
at center. The game promises numerous exciting head-to-head matchups all of which could be crucial to the outcome of the game. It will be interesting to see how the guards line up, with Teodosic boasting a significant height advantage over McCalebb. The Reds can look to the quicker Scoonie Penn
and Patrick Beverley
to stop Partizan's playmaker if needed. Meanwhile Partizan may call upon Aleksandar Rasic
or veteran Petar Bozic
to handle the Reds' ace sixth man and former Euroleague MVP, Theo Papaloukas
. Kecman and Olympiacos's Yotam Halperin
will likely duel at shooting guard. Perhaps the two tallest and most athletic small forwards in the league, Jan Vesely
of Partizan and Childress, will clash at one forward spot, while Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy Kleiza faces Partizan's sturdy Lawrence Roberts
at power forward. Partizan often starts 2.29-meter Slavko Vranes
at center before turning to Maric. The Reds counter with the shorter, but wider and stronger Sofoklis Schortsanitis
, who is followed by former All-Euroleague picks Nikola Vujcic
and Ioannis Bourousis
off the bench. Center Loukas Mavrokefalides
and forward Panos Vasilopoulos
could also have important roles off the bench for Giannakis. Vujosevic could turn to teenage forward Branislav Djekic
to shake things up too. The pace of the game could be the determining factor. Olympiacos will try to play fast as evidenced by its league-best 87.9 points per game this season - 15 ppg. more than its opponent. Partizan will try to slow the pace to maximize its big men, since it led the Euroleague in rebounding (37.4 rpg.) and offensive rebounding (12.4 orpg.). Olympiacos has the edge in experience, but that has never hindered Partizan before. Both teams figure to be ready for the most important game they have played this season and will have their fans cheering loudly too in what promises to be a thrilling semifinal clash that could go to the buzzer.
REFEREES: Shmuel Bachar, Fabio Facchini, Daniel Hierrezuelo
Dusan Kecman needs 39 more points to reach 1,000 for his Euroleague Basketball career.
Kecman has made at least 1 three-pointer in seven consecutive Euroleague games.
Slavko Vranes needs just 2 more blocked shots to reach 10th place on the career list. Vranes is currently tied with Barcelona’s Erazem Lorbek for 11th place with 86 rejections. Montepaschi center Ben Eze is in 10th place with 88 blocks.
Bo McCalebb has recorded at least 1 steal in 14 straight Euroleague games.
Nikola Vujcic needs just 10 more rebounds to become the second player in Euroleague Basketball history with 1,000 career boards. Mirsad Turkcan is the career leader with 1,151 rebounds.
Vujcic needs just 7 more assists to reach 500 for his Euroleague career. He would become the first player to amass 500 rebounds and 500 assists in his career.
Scoonie Penn needs just 5 more steals to match Marcus Brown for 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball career steals chart. Penn enters the Final Four with 178 career steals in 101 games. Only one player in the top 10 (Dimitris Diamantidis, 1.93 spg.) has a better per-game career average than Penn (1.76 spg.).
Penn needs just 5 more assists to reach 300 for his Euroleague career. He would become the 17th player this decade to reach that plateau.
Ioannis Bourousis needs 1 blocked shot to join the Euroleague’s career top 20. He enters the Final Four ranked 22nd with 74 career rejections. Tomas Van den Spiegel of Real Madrid and Kaya Peker of Efes Pilsen are tied for 20th place with 75 blocks.
Bourousis has made 13 consecutive free throws in Euroleague action.
Josh Childress has scored in double figures in each of his last eight Euroleague games.
Yotam Halperin has made 21 consecutive free throws in Euroleague action this season.
Milos Teodosic has made at least 2 three-pointers in eight consecutive Euroleague games. He has also scored in double figures in all of those games. Teodosic made 24 of 47 triples (51.1%) in that stretch.
Teodosic has recorded at least 1 steal in nine straight games.