Lietuvos Rytas hopes to continue its amazing run in Group B when it hosts Prokom Trefl Sopot at the Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday. Lietuvos Rytas (4-2) has shown it is not just any Euroleague newcomer during a four-game winning streak in which it has registered consecutive road wins against Winterthur FCB, Efes Pilsen and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Prokom Trefl (2-4), meanwhile, hopes to break its three-game losing streak as soon as possible. L. Rytas counts on a dynamic frontcourt in which any player can assume the scoring duties at any time. Haris Mujezinovic (11.8 ppg, 55.5% 3FG) shared MVP honors last week, leading his team to a big win in Tel Aviv, while Robertas Javtokas (9.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg.) is one of the best defensive centers around. Matt Nielsen (8.1 ppg., 4.8 rpg.), Andrius Slezas (3.4 ppg.) and even youngster Povilas Cukinas (2 rpg.) can come off the bench and contribute at both ends. The mission will not be easy, as Prokom has one of the toughest frontcourts around. Adam Wojcik (12.3 ppg.) in its prime offensive threat near the basket, but blue-collar center Michael Andersen (8.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg.) has given a new dimension to this team, allowing Wojcik to face the basket and take the occasional jumper. Prokom can count on two valuable players near the basket, aggressive forward Filip Dylewicz (5.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg.) and do-it-all big man Tomas Masiulis (6 ppg., 72% 2FG, 5.6 rpg., 2.6 apg.). L. Rytas will be concerned about slowing small forward Goran Jagodnik (15.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg), a great shooter and a mismatch for any defense due to his combination of size and shooting range. On the other hand, Prokom will be concerned about the hosts' star backcourt, featuring talented playmaker Roberts Stelmahers (10.1 ppg., 4.3 apg.), all-around threat Fred House (13 ppg.) and rising star Simas Jasaitis (9.8 ppg., 4.6 rpg). The matchup between House and Prokom's Christian Dalmau (11.1 ppg., 65.3% 2FG) will be one of the most interesting ones of the night. Stelmahers will go against Istvan Nemeth (9.1 ppg., 3 apg.) in a high-profile battle between two of the best pass-first playmakers in the competition. Above all, the team which controls the game tempo will have more chances to win the game, as L. Rytas feels more comfortable with an up-tempo style, while Prokom prefers to slow down the pace, looking for Dalmau, Jagodnik and Wojcik at its main offensive weapons.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005