A battle between two teams in top shape will take place in the Spanish capital when Real Madrid hosts Partizan Igokea on Wednesday. Undefeated Real Madrid shares the Group C lead with with Panathinaikos at 3-0, while Partizan is right behind at 2-1. Star guard Louis Bullock is back for Real Madrid and is ready to lead a star-studded backcourt with his unlimited range and endless talent. Bullock is set to join forces with top gun Charles Smith and do-it-all forward Alex Mumbru at the wings. Smith comes off an impressive game in the Spanish League, while Mumbru is having a career season so far. Smith and Bullock will test their scoring skills against two good defensive players in Dusan Kecman and Cedomir Vitkovac and streak shooters Uros Tripkovic and Milenko Tepic, who scored the game-winning basket in an Adriatic League road win against Cibona this weekend. The point guard battle will also be interesting, as Real Madrid offers a well-rounded combo in Kerem Tunceri and Raul Lopez. Tunceri offers clutch and defense, so he is ready to face Milt Palacio, a silent leader who has taken Partizan to bigger heights. Meanwhile, Lopez provides creativity and know-how. Madrid's main concern, however, will be stopping Nikola Pekovic, the top scorer of the competition, who has been simply unstoppable so far, a dominant force in the paint. He leads a deep Partizan frontcourt featuring Dejan Borovnjak, Novica Velickovic and 2.29-meter center Slavko Vranes. Madrid seems to have the right players to shut down Pekovic, such as Lazaros Papadopoulos, Venson Hamilton and Axel Hervelle. Meanwhile, Felipe Reyes has proven ready to crash the boards now that his back injury is a thing of the past, while former Partizan forward Blagota Sekulic offers deep range and solid post skills. Two very good defensive teams full of strength and intensity go against each other to stay in the upper part of the Group C standings, so expect a big battle in Madrid.
Real Madrid head coach, Joan Plaza
"This team is really difficult to beat. They lost last week by just four points to Panathinaikos, and previously beat a team as strong as AXA F.C. Barcelona. They are really playing well, also proving so in their domestic league in the last game against Cibona. To win this game, we'll have to face it with the maximum intensity. Partizan has one of the Euroleague's top players at the moment, Nikola Pekovic, who is having great performances in recent weeks, making him their go-to guy right now. We have to keep focusin on how to improve as a team and to maintain our strength at home, for which we need to concentrate 40 minutes and keep counting on the exceptional support that our fans at Vistalegre Palace have been showing us since the season started."
Real Madrid guard, Charles Smith
"Partizan is a tough, young, energetic team that plays a fast, interesting offensive game. We know it will be a difficult game, like any in the Euroleague, but we have confidence in our possibilities, especially playing at home. We are little by little getting better as a team and we have to keep on that path. It seems that Nikola Pekovic is Partizan's top player and we'll have to focus on stopping him, but we can't forget that their other players have a lot of talent and we can't let our defense slip against them, because all of them can score."
Partizan Igokea head coach, Dusko Vujosevic
Any champion of Spain must be a team with the highest quality. Real Madrid is that champion now. This season they made a roster with high ambitions because the Final Four is scheduled in Madrid. Anyway, Real is the favorite in our game, but we have already shown that favorite teams have a lot of trouble with us. We are going to Madrid without pressure and with the goal to play our game and give our best."
Partizan Igokea guard, Milenko Tepic
"We are ready for a performance like we had in last three Euroleague games. If that is enough to beat Real, we shall take advantage. Partizan has had a lot of heavy games these last two weeks. but we are prepared to play at a Wednesday-Sunday rhythm. We have the power to give our best in each game and struggle for the victory."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007