|Two teams with two different goals in Last 16 Group K are ready to battle each other in the Basque Country, Spain on Tuesday night, as Bizkaia Bilbao Basket hosts Benetton Gioco Digitale at 20:15 CET. Bilbao is the only undefeated team left in the competition - and also the only one that already sealed its ticket to the next round. Bilbao will clinch first place and get the home court advantage in the two-way Quarterfinals if it wins and Brose Baskets (1-3) beats Panellinios (3-1). Meanwhile, Benetton is still looking for its first win and is mathematically out of chances to advance to the Quarterfinals. Benetton, however, lost all its Last 16 games by no more than 10 points, so it is ready to put out a good battle in Bilbao. Even without injured big man Andrea Renzi, Benetton relies on a experienced, versatile frontcourt. CJ Wallace is ready to rebound at both ends, Sandro Nicevic offers post skills, mid-range shots and know-how, Donatas Motiejunas is displaying his talent, determination and aggressivity while versatile forward Jasmin Hukic can help the team in many ways. Wallace is ready for a physical test against Jerome Moiso, who is seeing extended playing time since head coach Fotis Katsikaris arrived in Bilbao. Nicevic will have the tough mission to guard All-Eurocup big man Marko Banic, as both players know each other very well from the Croatian national team. Motiejunas hopes to show his rebounding skills against a specialist like Axel Hervelle. Damir Markota can open the floor for Bilbao with his mobility and shots from downtown. Bilbao must be ready to stop Benetton's shooting stars Gary Neal and KC Rivers. Neal, an all-Eurocup second team selection last season, has scored in double digits in every Eurocup game this season, and offers unlimited range and one-on-one skills. Hukic will see playing time at small forward and coach Jasmin Repesa will likely use twin point guard with Davor Kus and either Daniel Hackett or Andrea De Nicolao. Neal will face a hard-nosed defender like Janis Blums, even when he may also see playing time against Ronnie Seibutis. Meanwhile, Rivers has the tough mission to stop an all-around player like Chris Warren. Bilbao is really deep at point guard, as Javi Rodriguez offers court sense and defense while Javi Salgado can change any game with his clutch shooting, creativity and inspiration. Bilbao must be its usual self in defense and get Banic and Hervelle involved to get Wallace or Nicevic into foul trouble. Benetton must run its offense through Kus and Neal and lock the defensive board. Expect a big battle at Bizkaia Arena on Tuesday.
REFEREES: Luis Lopes, Arnis Ozols, Apostolos Kalpakas
Monday, March 01, 2010