Two teams seeking their first wins of the season clash on Thursday in the Italian capital when Lottomatica Roma hosts Brose Baskets Bamberg. Both teams have suffered heart break in the early part of the season. Roma hung tough in its first two games at defending champion Panathinaikos and at Real Madrid before getting crushed by 19 last week at Fenerbahce Ulker. The silver lining for head coach Jasmin Repesa's injury-rattled squad is that all three of those games were on the road. The brightest spot so far this season has been the shooting of Jon Stefansson of the bench, while big man Erazem Lorbek and Euroleague assists leader Roke-Leni Ukic have also played huge roles. Meanwhile the German champions lost in Week 1 at the buzzer to Chorale Roanne and hung tight to the final minute as Panathinaikos. Last week the club lost 59-49 at Real Madrid. Veterans Steffan Hamann, Predrag Suput and Ademola Okulaja have formed the spine of the club, which has made some real noise on the defensive end. Bamberg leads the league by allowing its opponents just 63 points per game this season. One way Brose Baskets has been so successful on defense is by limiting its opponents' second chance opportunities: Head coach Dirk Bauermann's charges are fourth in the league in defensive rebounds. However on offense Brose Baskets must improve on its 17.7 turnovers per game – third worst in the league. With the likes of Ukic, Stefansson, David Hawkins and Allan Ray in the Roma backcourt, the hosts will always look to speed up the game's tempo, which makes the playmaking duel between Ukic on one end and Hamann, Mark Dickel and for defensive purposes, Demond Greene on the other, a key to this game. The other X-factor in this game is the fact that it is Roma's first at home. If the hosts can control the tempo and get their fans behind them, Lottomatica could celebrate its first win. However if Brose Baskets takes charge, the home crowd could turn into a source of pressure for the hosts and the visitors could be the ones celebrating after the final buzzer.
Lottomatica coach, Jasmin Repesa
"The match against Brose Basket will be crucial for both the teams, as we are both at zero wins. We know that the German team has a good defense and they are very dangerous. If we want to win, we have to improve our defense: that will be the key factor of the match. I have asked my players for great attention and determination. We will play the first Euroleague match at home, so it’s normal to be emotional and excited, but we shall do our best to stay concentrated. Moreover, Drejer will be absent, while Bagnoli and Daniels could be on the bench with the team, but they will hardly play because they are not ready yet."
Lottomatica Roma forward, Roberto Gabini
"It will be our first home game this season in the Euroleague. We need to win, not only for our fans but for our hopes. Our fans are extraordinary, they have followed us everywhere and we need to give them some joy on Thursday. We have to improve, but the most important thing is the unity of the group and our will to do well, even learning from defeats."
Brose Baskets head coach, Dirk Bauermann
"They're a great offensive team with a lot of weapons. But I think we can cause some problems with our defense. It will be difficult to win if the score is in the 80s. We have to control the rhythm of the game and run at our opportunities. But we can't turn the ball over. We also have to be cautious with early three-point shots. And we have to play great defense. Keeping the score in the upper 60s or 70s would be great. If we do that, we have a chance. I'm sure they will be dying to play a game at home, and they will be full of energy. It's going to be very difficult."
Brose Baskets guard, Robert Garrett
"It's going to be a tough game. It's really a game we have to win. We've been close a couple times but haven't gotten the W. Now we're going to Rome to win. They are a good team with a great coach. I know a lot of the players from the past and there's gonna be pressure on both teams to win."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007