|Cibona will look to bounce back from its first loss when it hosts suddenly red-hot Air Avellino on Wednesday at the Drazen Petrovic Basketball Center in Zagreb, Croatia. Cibona started the season on fire and won its first three games before going down two weeks ago at Unicaja. Still the Cibona shares the Group A lead with a 3-1 record. Meanwhile Air Avellino worked out the early season jitters to win its last two games and improve to 2-2. But head coach Zare Markovski’s men are still looking for their first road win. The game will surely be an interesting one due to the return of Chris Warren, Avellino’s top player, to Cibona, where he spent the last three seasons. Warren has stepped right in as the most important player for his new team and he ranks second in the Euroleague in scoring and is second on Avellino in both rebounds and assists. He will see many familiar faces at the other end of the floor trying to stop him this week, but he may not recognize too many of them in the backcourt. Alongside his old teammate Davor Kus, Cibona will roll out the likes of newcomers Rawle Marshall, Earl Calloway and Robert Troha to try and stop Warren. The attention on Warren could free up playmaker Travis Best and sharpshooter Drake Diener to create points for the visitors. The Avellino frontcourt has steadily improved over the course of the season, with Tamar Slay and Marko Tusek and working well at forward and Eric Williams and Nikola Radulovic doing the job in the paint. For Cibona, Niksa Prkacin, Jared Homan and Luksa Andric have produced well inside, while forwards Vedran Vukusic and Marin Rozic round out the frontcourt. Among head coach Velimir Perasovic’s troops’ weaknesses have been compiling assists and offensive rebounds and they will need to be extremely efficient with the ball to have a chance at winning if they don’t improve in those areas. With all eyes on Warren, it will be interesting to see if the welcome he receives takes him out of focus, or if the return to his former home causes him to be extra motivated. If his former teammates have the recipe to slow him down, Cibona becomes the clear favorite to win, but if Warren’s familiarity with the hoops in Zagreb leads to a big game, Avellino could get its first road win.
- Veteran point guard Davor Kus enters this week’s game needing just 14 more points to reach 1,000 for his Euroleague Basketball career.
- Center Niksa Prkacin was held scoreless in a game that he started for the first time in his Euroleague career in the club’s last game two weeks ago against Unicaja. It was the 68th time he appeared in his team’s starting five in the Euroleague. Prkacin has played in 133 games in his Euroleague career with three different teams.
- Swingman Rawle Marshall leads the Euroleague with 14 three-pointers made this season. He has also accounted for half of his team’s triples so far.
- Swingman Chris Warren returns to his old stomping ground this week. Warren spent the last three seasons with Cibona and was the team’s top scorer in the Euroleague in each of the past two seasons. Overall he played 34 Euroleague games with Cibona and helped the club win two Croatian championships.
- Big man Nikola Radulovic, was born in Zagreb, where he will play this week against Cibona. Radulovic also spent half a season playing for Cibona early in his career.
- Forward Marko Tusek has made at least 1 three-pointer in his last seven Euroleague games dating back to April 2007.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008