Two classic Euroleague teams fighting for different goals are set to face each other in Siena, Italy, where Montepaschi welcomes Cibona on Thursday at 20:30 CET. Montepaschi comes off its first Euroleague loss this season and will be all but mathematically qualified to the Top 16 if it downs Cibona tomorrow. Meanwhile, Cibona joins a three-way tie for the fourth spot at 1-4 and is looking for revenge, as Montepaschi registered a 40-85 road win in Zagreb. Cibona is expected to be without Antonio Graves, who is still registered but expected to be released this week. Without Graves on the floor, Jamont Gordon will be Cibona's reference at point guard, with Vedran Princ coming off the bench. Both are intense defenders ready for the big challenge to stop All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre. Nikos Zisis is already to offer court sense and experience off the hosts' bench. Montepaschi will be mostly concerned on stopping Marko Tomas, a natural-born mismatch at both wings. Tomas will get some hope from defensive stopper Marin Rozic, up-and-coming talent Bojan Bogdanovic and tall guard Robert Troha. Due to his versatility and defensive skills, Rozic is the perfect candidate to guard Romain Sato, in great shape recently. Tomas is ready for a big shootout against Henry Domercant while Bogdanovic will try to use his quickness against an experienced defensive player like David Hawkins. Montepaschi has its full lineup available, as center Ksistof Lavrinovic is back in action and ready to face Cibona. Lavrinovic and Shaun Stonerook will try to open the court with their three-point shots, also creating space for old-school center Ben Eze to play in the low post. Denis Marconato and Tomas Ress offer size and rebounds off the bench. With Dalibor Bagaric expected to be sidelined, coach Velimir Perasovic relies on two good shooters like Luksa Andric and Vedran Vukusic to see most minutes around the baskets. Young centers Tomislav Zubcic and Leon Radosevic provide intensity, toughness and enthusiasm off the bench. Montepaschi must feed their big men and run its offense through McIntyre to live up to the expectations. Cibona must slow down the game tempo and expect a good game from Gordon and Tomas to have chances to win. Even when Montepaschi is the favourite, expect Cibona to battle hard in Siena.
REFEREES: Costas Mouzakis, Sergey Chebyshev, Jasmina Juras
Montepaschi set a defensive record in Week 1 against Cibona, holding the team to 40 points – the fewest ever scored by a team at home in a Euroleague game.
All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre has drilled at least one three-pointer in 21 consecutive Euroleague games.
Darjus Lavrinovic set career highs in scoring and index ranking with a 26-point, 8-rebound and 3-steal game for a 24 index against Cibona in Week 1.
Ben Eze continues to move up on the Euroleague career shot-blocking charts. He is now tied for 13th place with 77 career blocks, needing just 3 more to crack the top 10.
Romain Sato has picked up at least 1 steal in seven consecutive Euroleague games.
Domercant has made 34 consecutive free throws over his past 18 Euroleague games.
Denis Marconato needs 1 more offensive rebound to break a tie with Luis Scola for third place on the career offensive rebounding list. Marconato enters the game with 276 offensive boards and needs 13 more to reach Kerem Gonlum for second place with 289. The all-time leader is FB Ulker’s Mirsad Turkcan with 337.
Forward Shaun Stonerook set career highs in each meeting with Cibona last season. Stonerook had 18 points in an 88-81 loss in Zagreb in January and 11 rebounds in an 86-70 home win in March.
Nikos Zisis has gone 14 consecutive Euroleague games without making a three-pointer. He is 0 for 14 from downtown during that stretch.
Dalibor Bagaric and Montepaschi big man Tomas Ress were teammates at Fortitudo Bologna during the 2005-06 season.
Marko Tomas has been Cibona’s top scorer in four of five Euroleague games this season.
Jamont Gordon has at least 1 steal in every game so far this season. He ranks second in the Euroleague with 2.6 steals per game.
Marin Rozic set a career high with 15 points last week against Asvel Basket.
After shooting 5 for 24 from downtown last week, Cibona ranks last in the Euroleague in three-point shooting this season at 21.5%.