|The Italian champion takes on the Polish champion on Wednesday as Montepaschi Siena hosts Asseco Prokom Sopot in the teams’ Euroleague opener. Both teams finished last year on a high not and would like to continue that momentum, though they did so at different times. Montepaschi reached the Euroleague Final Four and placed third before cruising to the title in Italy. Prokom finished its Euroleague regular season with wins in three of its final four games and even though that wasn’t enough to secure a Top 16 berth, it did help create momentum that would lead to another Polish crown. Head coach Tomas Pacesas begins his first full season on the sidelines for Prokom and features a lineup without any of the starters from last season. His team promises to be smart, tough and team-orientated, exactly the skills that saw Montepaschi take the Euroleague by storm last season. The visitors have an experienced frontline led by former champ Pat Burke, Koko Archibong and Ronnie Burrell, plus 2.17-meter center Adam Lapeta. They will serve up their best to the likes of Ksistof Lavrinovic, Shaun Stonerook, Ben Eze and Tomas Ress, all back from last season. In fact Montepaschi has only added two important pieces to last year’s squad, point guard Morris Finley and swingman Henry Domercant. They join star playmaker Terrell McIntyre, Rimas Kaukenas and small forward Romain Sato to give head coach Simone Pianigiani an ideal backcourt. Prokom’s backcourt is still coming together, but has the makings of something special. David Logan, Dan Ewing and Aleksej Nesovic form a promising guard trio and Prokom veteran Filip Dylewicz and Piotr Szcotka bring toughness at small forward. Although Prokom has the tools to challenge Montepaschi, ultimately the hosts remain the clear favorite to start the season with a win. Aside from the advantage of being a team returning the bulk of its roster as opposed to Prokom being mostly built from scratch, Montepaschi comes off a season here it went 10-1 at home in the Euroleague. Meanwhile Prokom went 1-6 on the road. Nevertheless Prokom should come out hungrier than ever as it looks to prove it can compete with the very best at the start of the 2008-09 Euroleague season.
- Guard Morris Finley is the only player on the Montepaschi Siena roster without any previous Euroleague Basketball experience.
- Montepaschi players Shaun Stonerook and Terrell McIntyre placed first and second, respectively, in the Euroleague in steals per game last season.
Teammate Romain Sato was fifth and Ksistof Lavrinovic was ninth.
- Guard Henry Domercant needs just 2 more steals to reach 100 for his Euroleague Basketball career.
- At least six players – Dan Ewing, Adam Hrycaniuk, David Logan, Aleksej Nesovic, Tomasz Swietonski and Piotr Szczotka – could make their Euroleague Basketball debut this week at Montepaschi.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008