Two of the teams that reached the Eurocup Quarterfinals last season will fight each other in the Last 16 when Benetton Gioco Digitale hosts Bizkaia Bilbao Basket in Group K on Tuesday night. Benetton, a two-time Saporta Cup winner, was second in regular season Group F. Bilbao, the only one of last year's semifinalist left in the competition, is the only unbeaten team left in the 2009-10 Eurocup. Bilbao recently improved its frontcourt by inking Axel Hervelle, who offers intensity, experience and shooting range at power forward. He is set to play alongside All-Eurocup big man Marko Banic, who has been unstoppable so far this season. Salva Guardia offers intensity and aggressiveness off the bench, but coach Fotis Katsikaris can opt to open the floor with Damir Markota at power forward due to his shooting range and quickness. Banic is ready for a key matchup against Sandro Nicevic, who knows him very well due to their time together in the Croatian national team. Guardia and Hervelle will have to box out against two very good rebounders in CJ Wallace and Donatas Motiejunas. Benetton is set to run its offense through scoring ace Gary Neal and recently signed bomber KC Rivers. Jasmin Hukic is back to offer experience, deep range and versatility at both forwards, with Tyrone Grant offering a helping hand. Expect Neal and Rivers to benefit from new head coach Jasmin Repesa's trademark up-tempo game. Rivers has a tough matchup against Alex Mumbru, as he can take him to the low post, hit from downtown or try to take him one-on-one due to his driving skills. Neal will not have it easy against two very intense defenders in Robert Conley and Chris Warren. The point guard battle will be interesting, too. Davor Kus is set to see most minutes at playmaker, with Daniel Hackett offering size and determination off the bench. Kus will face a battery of point guards featuring pass-first playmaker Javi Rodriguez, clutch hero Javi Salgado and combo guards Ronnie Seibutis and Janis Blums. Bilbao must get Banic and Mumbru involved, as well as playing up-tempo to get its many shooters involved. Benetton must power the boards and run its offense through Neal. Both teams have brand new coaches, so the game is totally unpredictable, except to say that there is talent and tradition, which point to an exciting showdown in Treviso, Italy.
REFEREES: Dubravko Muhvic, Marek Cmikiewicz, Oliver Krause