Bizkaia Bilbao Basket welcomes Turk Telecom to Spain with plans to improve to 4-0 and seal its pass to the Last 16 in the process. Turk Telekom, at 1-2 and in third place in Group E, will need to dig down deep to find a way to beat what is proving to be one of the clear candidates to go all the way in this year’s Eurocup. Just last week, Bilbao handed Turk Telekom a 70-85 defeat on its home court in Ankara. Bilbao dominated by taking Turk Telekom out of its offensive flow. Only one Turk Telekom player, guard Serkan Erdogan, got into double digits as Bilbao threw waves and waves of fresh legs onto the court to wear down the hosts’ main weapons. While Erdogan did get 16 points, his backcourt partner Demond Mallet was forced into shooting 0 for 5 from the behind the three-point arc and finished with just 3 points. Turk Telekom will have to find a way to free up Mallet if it hopes to have a chance this week. Another key to Turk Telekom’s downfall was that Bilbao sent it to the foul line a mere 10 times, where it only made 6. This time around, the team from Ankara will also have to attack the basket and play more aggressively on offense to get more easy points from the line. The problem for any team playing Bilbao is that it is the deepest team in the competition with no absolutely no difference between its starters and bench players. All 12 players saw court time last week. There is one player that does stand out as the offensive leader of Bilbao and his name is Marko Banic. The forward is his team’s leading scorer, and he torched Turk Telekom for 26 points last week. Banic and the do-everything Alex Mumbru team up to make a potent combo of forwards. Chirs Warren is also worth keeping an eye on. Last week, the forward came off the bench to score 11 points. Umit Sonkol and Lamayne Wilson will have to do their best to at least keep pace with Banic and co. scoring the ball if they cannot find a way to slow him down. In the backcourt, Bilbao will once again split court time between no less than five guards. Javi Rodriguez and Javi Salgado are unselfish playmakers while shooting guard Renaldas Seibutis and combo guard Janus Blums can light it up with the best to keep defenses more than honest when they think of doubling down on Banic. To round out the main individual battles, Huseyin Besok and Salva Guardia will be an interesting one to watch at the center position. In short, Turk Telekom will have to play a near-perfect game to come away with the upset.
REFEREES: Romualdas Brazauskas, Radomir Vojinovic, Renaud Geller