|The most eagerly-anticipated game of the season so far will take place on Thursday when Montepaschi Siena hosts Regal FC Barcelona in a clash of unbeaten sides from Group A. First place will be at stake when these two teams take the floor in Siena. After various injuries limited their rotations earlier in the season, both head coaches have all their top players ready to go this time. This game features stars at every turn, but two of the biggest will be in the backcourt, where Euroleague MVP Juan Carlos Navarro anchors the Barcelona attack and two-time All-Euroleague playmaker Terrell McIntyre leads the Italian champs. McIntyre will face a tough matchup against Ricky Rubio and Victor Sada, two defensive-minded guards that will seek to make things tough on the Montepaschi Star. Meanwhile Navarro will pit his scoring abilities against Henry Domercant, while Barca combo-guard Jaka Lakovic will challenge his counterpart, Nikos Zisis. Montepaschi has two extremely athletic players to attack from the wings in shooting guard David Hawkins and small forward Romain Sato. Barcelona captain Roger Grimau could be called on to badger Hawkins, while Barca’s leading scorer, Pete Mickeal, will tangle with Siena’s No. 1 scorer, Sato, in a tantalizing duel. Neither team can complain about depth in the paint either, with four big and big name players sharing time for both sides. Montepaschi’s do-it-all power forward, Ksistof Lavrinovic, is back after missing three games to face Terence Morris and Erazem Lorbek. Center Ben Eze and former Barcelona star Denis Marconato will meet Barca’s shot-blocking threats Fran Vazquez and Boniface NDong. Montepaschi captain Shaun Stonerook loves to open up the floor with his deep shooting range, creating space for the other big men to exploit or the wings to penetrate into. Of course what makes this matchup truly special is that both teams always prove to be greater than the sum of their parts, a tribute to two of the best young coaches in basketball, Montepaschi’s Simone Pianigiani and Barcelona’s Xavi Pascual. The two teams have allowed the fewest points of any teams in the Euroleague and it will be interesting to see whether this game takes the shape of a defensive grindout or a fast paced thriller. Either way, the matchup between McIntyre and Rubio will have a huge impact on the outcome and is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
REFEREES: Romualdas Brazauskas, Eddie Viator, Milija Vojinovic
All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre has drilled at least one three-pointer in 20 consecutive Euroleague games.
Ben Eze continues to move up on the Euroleague career shot-blocking charts. He is now in 13th place with 77 career blocks, needing just 3 more to crack the top 10.
Guard David Hawkins had one of the best games of his Euroleague career against Barcelona in January 2008. He only missed a single shot en route to 22 points, 3 assists and 3 steals for a career-high 28 index in a 75-77 victory.
Henry Domercant had one of the best games of his Euroleague career in a 66-63 win over Barcelona in November 2005. Domercant, then with Efes Pilsen, recorded 23 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals for a 31 index in a 66-63 win in Istanbul.
Domercant has made 34 consecutive free throws over his past 17 Euroleague games.
Romain Sato reinforced Barcelona for the 2006 Spanish League playoffs. He was a teammate of four current Barcelona players: Juan Carlos Navarro, Jordi Trias, Gianluca Basile and Roger Grimau.
Sato recorded his career best in steals, 6, in a 71-61 home victory over Barcelona in November 71-61.
Center Denis Marconato needs 1 more offensive rebound to break a tie with Luis Scola for third place on the career offensive rebounding list. Marconato enters the game with 276 offensive boards and needs 13 more to reach Kerem Gonlum for second place with 289. The all-time leader is FB Ulker’s Mirsad Turkcan with 337.
Regal FC Barcelona
Erazem Lorbek recorded his only double-double of the season last year in the Top 16 against Montepaschi Siena. Lorbek had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead his team at the time, CSKA Moscow, to a 95-71 victory.
Barcelona big men Terrence Morris and Lorbek were teammates with Montepaschi guard Nikos Zisis last season at CSKA Moscow. Together they won the Russian League and reached the Euroleague final.
Terence Morris has not missed a two-point shot yet this season, going a combined 8 for 8 in Barcelona’s first four games.
Morris needs just 2 more blocked shot to reach 20th place on the Euroelague’s career shot-blocking charts. He has blocked 70 shots in 50 games over his career.
Juan Carlos Navarro needs just 5 more three-pointers to reach 300 for his Euroleague career. He would be come the fourth player to accomplish that feat.
Pete Mickeal and Montepaschi big man Ksistof Lavrinovic were teammates briefly during the 2004-05 season at Dynamo Moscow. Mickael played only one Eurocup game with Moscow before moving to Makedonikos Kozani.
Fran Vazquez trails Marcus Goree by 2 blocked shots for second place on the Euroleague career blocked shot list. Vazquez now has 118 blocks in 103 career games.
Ricky Rubio has recorded at least one steal in each of his last 14 Euroleague appearances.
Rubio has made 14 straight free throws over his last five Euroleague games.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009