|A direct fight to stay in the fight for a Quarterfinals spot in Group I is taking place in France, where Le Mans hosts DKV Joventut on Tuesday at 21:30 CET. Both teams are tied for second place in Group I, each with a 1-1 record. DKV Joventut faces injury problems, as Clay Tucker was a last-minute decision in a Spanish League game against Regal FC Barcelona and may see reduced playing time against Le Mans. If Tucker stays sidelined or plays less than expected, Uros Tripkovic will be his team's main threat from beyond the arc. Up-and-coming small forward Pere Tomas and athletic swingman Christian Eyenga will also see extended playing time at both wings. Tripkovic is ready to test his scoring skills against Dee Spencer, in what could be a critical matchup in this game. Meanwhile, Tomas has to use his quickness and intensity against three-point threat Maleye Ndoye. Joventut will have to be concerned on stopping do-it-all point guard Zach Wright, in great shape recently. Antoine Diot offers court sense and determination - he hit the game-winner against Aris last week - off the bench, but both players are ready to share minutes on court, too. Wright has a very interesting battle against a good defender like Mario Fernandez. Meanwhile, Diot faces a smart, pass-first playmaker like Kris Valters, that leads the 2009-10 Eurocup in assists. Joventut is deeper around the baskets, as it features experienced Eurocup players like two-time winner Edu Hernandez-Sonseca or Antonio Bueno. It can open the court with Luka Bogdanovic at power forward or add intensity and physical skills with Henk Norel and Alain Koffi on the floor. Bogdanovic and Norel have the tough mission to guard former Alphonso Ford trophy winner Marc Salyers, a mismatch due to his ballhandling and unlimited range. Meanwhile, Hernandez-Sonseca, Bueno and Koffi are ready to take JP Batista into foul trouble, as well as trying to outrebound him and Thierry Rupert. Joventut must try to get its big men involved and expect Fernandez and Valters to stop Wright. Le Mans must run its offense through Spencer, Salyers and Batista and trust on their wild fan base to generate an outstanding basketball atmosphere. Expect a big showdown in Le Mans this Tuesday, in what could be a pivotal game in this group.
REFEREES: Fabio Facchini, Andrej Lovsin, Arnis Ozols
Monday, February 08, 2010