|Lottomatica Roma will put its four-game winning streak on the line Thursday when it hosts Alba Berlin at the Pallazzetto dello Sport in the Italian capital. Roma has not lost since opening night, when it went down to Alba in Berlin, and now leads Group C with a 4-1 record. Moreover, a win Thursday would increase Roma’s lead over the fifth place team in the group (Berlin) to three wins with only four games remaining, bringing head coach Jasmin Repesa’s squad to the brink of clinching a berth in the Top 16. But Roma may have a much different look when it takes the floor as three of its top players are in doubt. Center Primoz Brezec and guards Allan Ray and Sani Becirovic, who was named Euroleague Basketball’s MVP for the month of November this week, have all missed practice time this week with different injuries. Meanwhile Alba seeks its first road win of the season, which would propel head coach Luka Pavicevic’s men forward in the standings. Berlin enters the week tied for fourth place in the group with a 2-3 record, but is also only one win ahead of Union Olimpija, whom it lost to last week. Berlin continues to be at a disadvantage with star guard Julius Jenkins sidelined with an ankle problem. The injuries could affect each team differently. Roma suddenly has a more shallow backcourt, where rookie Brandon Jennings could be asked to do more than ever before alongside Ibby Jaaber, while Jacopo Giachetti and Luigi Datome could be forced into more time than hoped for after recovering from injuries of their own. Berlin’s Steffen Hamann, Immanuel McElroy and Rashad Wright will try and take advantage of Roma’s situation to overpower the hosts’ guards. At small forward, Rodrigo De la Fuente will pit his all-around game against the scoring skills of Casey Jacobson, while Ansu Sesay and Aleksandar Nadjfeji compliment Jacobsen against Roma’s Andre Hutson and Roberto Gabini. If Brezec can’t go, much will fall on the shoulders of Angelo Gigli, who will have his hands full against Adam Chubb and Patrick Femerling. Ultimately this game will be hard to forecast without seeing which of Roma’s players are fit to take the floor. With a healthy squad, the hosts would be favored, however with a short-handed lineup, how well Jennings and Gigli can do in the spotlight and how healthy Giachetti and Datome are in their minutes could determine the outcome as much as the play of McElroy or Wright for Berlin.
- Forward Rodrigo De la Fuente posted 11 points and 11 rebounds last week in the win over Fenerbahce Ulker for his first career double-double after 142 Euroleague games.
- Guard Brandon Jennings made 3 three-pointers in his Euroleague debut against Alba Berlin in October, but has not made more than 1 triple in any Euroleague game since.
- Alba Berlin has lost 15 consecutive Euroleague games on the road dating back to October 2002. The last road win for Berlin was against AEK Athens.
- Playmaker Rashad Wright played with his Week 6 opponent, forward Andre Hutson, last season at Efes Pilsen.
- Center Patrick Femerling won the 2003 Euroleague together with his Week 6 opponent, Rodrigo De la Fuente, at FC Barcelona.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008