Cholet Basket returns to the competition after four years away and immediately faces a top contender, Benetton Basket, in the teams’ opener in Group F. The hosts will need to receive the full support of their fans to beat a Benetton that reached the Final Eight in last year’s Eurocup. Benetton’s attack starts with scorer Gary Neal, an All-Eurocup Second Team selection last season. Veteran guard Davor Kus and rookie Daniel Hackett share playmaking duties, while Cartier Martin adds more scoring punch. Cholet will look for big contributions from its off-season additions to its backcourt: John Linehan, a former French League All-Star, Samuel Mejia and Fabien Causeur. In the paint, Benetton boasts another All-Eurocup Second Team selection, Sandro Nicevic. Cholet will turn to Randal Falker and teenage prospect Kevin Seraphin, both in their second year with Cholet, to slow Nicevic down. At forward Cholet uses Antywane Robinson and Christophe Leonard, who will be met by Benetton’s C.J. Wallace and big man Andrea Renzi. Two new signings add veteran savvy and young legs to Benetton’s frontline, Jasmin Hukic and 19-year-old Donatas Motiejunas. The depth clearly favors Benetton, however head coach Frank Vitucci’s men saw their Euroleague hopes dashed this season in the Euroleague Qualifying Rounds by another French team, Entente Orleanaise, which Cholet has already beaten this year in the French League. One player worth keeping an eye on will be Seraphin, who may need to step up to help Cholet handle Benetton’s bigger frontline in a key aspect of this contest.
REFEREES: Daniel Hierrezuelo, Miguel Angel Perez Niz, Luis Lopes
Monday, November 23, 2009