Fenerbahce Ulker will try to get back into the running for the Top 16 when it hosts Aris TT Bank in what's already a near-decisive Group C game for both teams on Wednesday. Fenerbahce (2-5) needs to start winning right away in order to advance, while Aris (3-4) will look to break its four-game losing streak on the road in Group C. Aris travels to Istanbul with center Giannis Giannoulis, who is expected to see some playing time for the first time in two weeks, but without point guard Spyros Panteliadis, who is nursing a knee problem. Meanwhile, Fenerbahce might be without center Kaspars Kambala (15.6 ppg.), who did not play this weekend in a Turkish League game due to an injury. Former Aris player Will Solomon (11.5 ppg., 4.3 apg.), having missed the last three Euroleague games, did not play this weekend either and he might not be ready to face his former team. Even with Kambala in doubt, Fenerbahce still counts on a battery of big men featuring Semih Erden (5.7 ppg.), Ira Clark (3.3 rpg.), Oguz Savas (3.3 ppg.) and above all Mirsad Turkcan (9.6 ppg., 11.1 rpg.), the Euroleague all-time top rebounder. Turkcan leads that category again this season, but will have to battle the third-best rebounder so far, Jeremiah Massey (12.7 ppg., 9.3 rpg.) of Aris, who gets plenty help from Mike Wilkinson (11.9 ppg., 6 rpg.), not to mention Giannoulis and Kevin Fletcher. Two of the best scorers in Group C will go against each other, too, as Ibrahim Kutluay (13.1 ppg.) of Fenerbahce will test his shooting skills against Alex Scales (15.7 ppg.) of Aris. Kutluay has enough help around with Damir Mrsic (11.3 ppg.), newcomer Eddie Basdem (8 ppg., 2.5 spg.) and combo guard Omer Onan (4.3 ppg.), while Scales is not alone either. Simonas Serapinas (3.6 ppg.), slasher Savvas Iliadis (6.2 ppg.) or veteran Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (6.5 ppg.) are able to change any game. The point guard battle will be interesting, especially if Solomon is not 100 percent. Hakan Demirel, Basdem, Mrsic and even Onan will have to share the point guard duties in that case, while Aris counts on pure playmakers like Terrell Castle (9.3 ppg.) and Giorgos Kalaitzis (40% 3FG). Expect Giorgios Sigalas (2.9 rpg., 1.1 spg.) to test his legendary defensive skills against Kutluay, in an exciting matchup in which both players know each other well. Last but not least, Aris beat Fenerbahce 66-58 in Game 1, so that could have an impact in the outcome for the game for tie-breaking purposes.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006