|A pivotal game in Group C is scheduled in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where Union Olimpija hosts Lottomatica Roma on Thursday evening. Olimpija is still looking for its first win of the season, while Lottomatica hopes to keep its momentum going and improve to 2-1 in the Group D standings. It will be a special game for Sani Becirovic and Primoz Brezec, who played for Olimpija and won multiple Slovenian championships early in their careers. Becirovic leads a strong Lottomatica backcourt that also features guards Ibby Jaaber, Allan Ray and Brandon Jennings. Olimpija parted ways with JaJuan Smith days before the game, so its rotation will stay as it was. As such, Vlado Ilievski will be Olimpija's starting point guard with Jonathan Wallace coming off the bench. A fully recovered Saso Ozbolt has become the team's top backcourt threat, with do-it-all swingman Jaka Klobucar and newcomer Frank Robinson ready to step on court and contribute. Olimpija is still missing Jasmin Hukic, so Damjan Rudez and Klobucar will share the small forward duties. Lottomatica is quite deep at that position, with players like Roberto Gabini and experienced defensive ace Rodrigo De La Fuente ready to face Rudez and Klobucar. Of course, Marko Milic will be Olimpija's main reference due to his intensity, strength and athleticism. He leads an interesting frontcourt that also features power forward Miha Zupan, rebounding ace Vladimir Golubovic and 2.20-meter center Mirza Begic, who has averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds in two Euroleague games. Brezec will have a strong test against Begic and Golubovic, while Andre Hutson will test his post moves and determination against Milic. Sharp shooter Alessandro Tonolli and center Angelo Gigli will come off the bench ready to help Lottomatica. Olimpija needs to play the way it did in the fourth quarter against Tau Ceramica last week - intense, accurate and with an outstanding Milic contributing at both ends. Lottomatica will try to play its brand of basketball, with quick transitions, high post pick-and-rolls and trying to get its shooters involved. It comes as no surprise that Lottomatica ranks second in three-point accuracy (48.6%) in the Euroleague this season. Above all, Olimpija will see its Top 16 chances severely reduced with a loss, so expect an intense, interesting game in Tivoli Hall on Thursday.
- Guard Vlado Ilievski enters this week’s game against Lottomatica Roma needing 17 more points to reach 1,000 for his Euroleague career.
- Ilievski spent a season-and-a-half playing for his next opponent, Lottomatica Roma. He played there for the 2005-06 season and for the first half of the following season
- Small forward Frank Robinson is eligible to make his Euroleague debut on Thursday against Lottomatica Roma.
- In his first two appearances of the season, center Mirza Begic has matched his total points scored (32) from nine games last season. Begic has dramatically improved his production this season and has been one of the brightest surprises of the young season.
- Guard Sani Becirovic enters his team’s Week3 game needing 4 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career.
- Becirovic began his Euroleague career with his Week 3 opponent, Union Olimpija. Becirovic played for Olimpija between 1999 and 2001, helping the club win one Slovenian championship and two Slovenian Cups.
- Center Primoz Brezec played for Olimpija between 1998 and 2001, helping the club win two Slovenian championships and three Slovenian Cups. Brezec and Becirovic were teammates for two of those seasons.
- Small forward Rodrigo de la Fuente was a teammate of current Union Olimpija point guard Vlado Ilievski for two seasons in Barcelona. They won the 2004 Spanish League championship together.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008