2008 Top 16 Profile: Lottomatica Roma

Jan 30, 2008 by Euroleague.net Print

Lottomatica Roma 
Regular Season:
6th, Group C, 6-8

Team Rankings
9th FT %
4th steals

Jasmin Repesa - Lottomatica Roma
Jasmin Repesa
It was not the last team to advance to the Top 16, but Lottomatica Roma entered it as the best sixth-ranked team, gaining the last spot in this round. Lottomatica look lost with a 1-6 record at the halfway mark of the regular season, but back-to-back home wins against Panathinaikos and Real Madrid got the team back in track. Another three-game winning streak highlighted by an outstanding road triumph against AXA FC Barcelona allowed Roma to stay alive in the competition. Roko Ukic has stepped up as one of the best playmakers in the competition due to his passing and driving skills. Ukic (12.9 ppg., 3.2 apg.) has been playing non-stop since Jacopo Giachetti went down with a season-ending injury. Ukic is a major piece in a deep Lottomatica backcourt that also features guard Allan Ray (10 ppg.), defensive ace Rodrigo De La Fuente, who arrived late in the regular season, and combo guard Jon Stefansson, who shocked everyone before missing 4 Euroleague games due to injury. The key piece, however
Roko-Leni Ukic - Lottomatica Roma
Roko-Leni Ukic
, is David Hawkins, the major factor in Lottomatica's late winning streak. Athletic, determined and hard-to-guard, Hawkins now feels confortable on coach Jasmin Repesa's system, trying to open the court as much as possible with all 5 players on court ready to pull the trigger from downtown. Lottomatica is second in steals-to-turnover ratio right behind Montepaschi Siena, which says enough about its intensity. Erazem Lorbek (14.4 ppg., 46.7% 3FG, 5.6 rpg.) is having a career-best season, getting valuable help from veteran Gregor Fucka (7.2 ppg.) and intense forward Roberto Gabini (6.3 ppg., 3.9 rpg.). Coach Repesa will keep its run-and-gun show going with Ukic, Hawkins and Lorbek as its go-to guys. Moreover, the best sixth-ranked team has always been a dangerous opponent in the Top 16. Montepaschi Siena reach the Final Four in 2003, Zalgiris was one shot away from making it in 2004, Ulker advanced to the Quarterfinal Playoffs in 2005 while Cibona and Partizan made noise in each of the last two seasons. It is now time for Lottomatica to step up and live up to this tradition.

Lottomatica Roma head coach Jasmin Repesa: "CSKA Moscow are a team made up to win the Euroleague. They are very strong and have great talent, but that doesn't mean we will go to Moscow for our opening game showing a white flag. We will battle like we have done in the regular season. It is a very strong group, but then again when you are in the Top 16, there are no easy rivals. I think it's going to be a beautiful challenge for my young roster. We played well against Barcelona, whom we beat on the road last month. It was a very close and intense game. With regards to whether we will reinforce our team before the Top 16, I can't say much at the moment. But what is clear is that having had to rely on seven or eight players due to our injury woes, we have lost a lot of energy."
Lottomatica Roma general manager Dejan Bodiroga: "It is a tough group for us in which CSKA is the clear favorite team. AXA FC Barcelona and Unicaja are also tough teams so I hope we will be physically well. We are really excited to be in this top 16. I think the key for us will try to be strong at home and then just try to play relaxed on the road."