DKV Joventut hosts Partizan Belgrade at the Palau Olimpic in Badalona, Spain, on Wednesday in a battle for Group E survival, as the loser will be eliminated. Both teams are in a race with Olympiacos Piraeus for the second spot from the group in the Quarterfinal Playoffs after defending champion CSKA (4-0) clinched last week. Both will also know already the result of CSKA vs. Olympiacos (2-2) earlier on Wednesday evening, which will greatly affect the group. If Olympiacos wins, Partizan (1-3) will be eliminated. Partizan lost twice to the Reds and therefore could not finish better than tied at 3-3 with them, but could still with a victory also knock out Joventut (1-3). If Olympiacos and Joventut win, they will play for the last Quarterfinal Playoffs berth the last week of the Top 16. It will be the same scenario if CSKA and Joventut both win. If CSKA and Partizan win, all three non-qualified teams remain alive into the last game. The meeting is the fourth between these two sides this season. Joventut swept the regular-season series, but Partizan won their first Top 16 battle 85-70 two weeks ago in Serbia. Partizan's big men, Predrag Drobnjak and Kosta Perovic, both shined that night with double-doubles as the hosts won the battle of the boards 33-21. Perovic (11.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg., 1.2 bpg.) was a dominant force in his team's loss at Olympiacos last week, totaling 19 points, 11 boards and 12 fouls drawn - tied for the fourth most in that category in Euroleague history. Joventut also arrives in good form as Rudy Fernandez and Co. downed Group D leader Tau Ceramica in Spanish-League action over the weekend. Fernandez (16.2 ppg., 45.1% 3FG) is Joventut's top weapon, teaming with point guards Elmer Bennett (7.8 ppg., 2.9 apg.) and Ricky Rubio (2.9 apg., 3.3 apg.) to give coach Aito Garcia Reneses a backcourt to be reckoned with. Partizan counters with Vonteego Cummings (13.6 ppg., 3.2 apg.), Dusan Kecman and swingman Uros Tripkovic (9.1 ppg.). But the determining battle could be in the paint, where the likes of centers Andy Betts and Robert Archibald (9 ppg.) and power forward Charles Gaines (9.9 ppg., 6.2 rpg.) will face off with Partizan's Drobnjak (16 ppg., 6.8 rpg.), Perovic and Nikola Pekovic. If the hosts' battery of big men find the answer to Partizan interior trio, Joventut will have a big advantage. But if Perovic continues on his recent tear, Partizan will be tough to beat. Either way, this battle could be scored as just another great round between these teams, which met each other for the 1992 Euroleague title and could be headed there again in the future with a cast of spectacular young players ready to conquer all.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007