Top 16, Group F breakdown

Feb 07, 2008 by Print
With three domestic champions and loads of tradition, Group F will be one of the toughest of the Top 16. The top seed is Spanish champion Real Madrid, which as the winningest club in European basketball history and being from the host city of the Final Four, will be ready for all comers. One of those is Israel champ Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, which finished the regular season with five straight wins. Madrid and Maccabi will renew a classic rivalry, which saw them meet in the 1980 Euroleague title game. Another set of rivals is Maccabi and Lithuanian champ Zalgiris Kaunas, which saw its spot in the 2004 Final Four taken away at the last possible second by eventual champion Maccabi in the Top 16 finale that season. Meanwhile Olympiacos Piraeus, which like Zalgiris is from Group A, will look to make a big splash under new head coach Panagiotis Giannakis.
Top 16, Group F player analysis: GIORGIOS PRINTEZIS, OLYMPIACOS
Giorgios Printezis - Olympiacos
After years of paying his dues and waiting for a chance to play, forward Georgios Printezis returned after a year away from Olympiacos and got that chance this season. The results show Printezis averaging 7.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 20 minutes per night while ranking among the 11 most efficient two-point shooters headed into the Top 16. "We have the opportunity to be first in this group," Printezis told READ MORE
Top 16, Group F player slideshow: JONAS MACIULIS, ZALGIRIS
Zalgiris Kaunas
His fans call him "The Bull", so you can only imagine what opponents would think of naming Jonas Maciulis, one of the forces the Top 16 status of Zalgiris Kaunas. Maciulis, just-turned 23, is already a fixture in the Zalgiris lineup as a fearless basket-crasher who averages 10.8 points as a full-time starer. More often than not Maciulis comes up with a dunk to pump up the crown in Kaunas, which makes him the perfect choice for some photo action before he tries to lift his game and his team to a higher level in the Top 16. See his SLIDESHOW, but watch out for "The Bull".
Jonas Maciulis - Zalgiris Kaunas
Top 16, Group F player wallpaper: YOTAM HALPERIN, MACCABI ELITE
Yotam Halperin
One more Group F player who left and then rejoined a great tradition is Yotam Halperin of Maccabi Elite. Halperin is holding up that tradition quite well. He leads Maccabi in assists and free throw accuracy while ranking second in steals and three-pointers, third in scoring. A bench-sitter while becoming a two-time Euroleague champ with Maccabi in 2004 and 2005, Halperin learned his lessons well and knows exactly how to lead a team in the same direction. Maccabi fans will want to follow the yellow brick road with Yotam Halperin's wallpaper on their desktop.
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv
Top 16, Group F player video: ALEX MUMBRU, REAL MADRID
Real Madrid
As Real Madrid heads into the Top 16, the player with the most minutes on-court for the would-be Final Four hosts might be something of a surprise: forward Alex Mumbru. That alone says how much trust his coaching staff has in Mumbru, who is averaging 10.3 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists this season. Whether ripping rebounds off bigger men, getting to the foul line, downing three-pointers or hustling for loose balls, Mumbru has become a symbol of Madrid's hard-nosed but resourseful brand of basketball. Watch his VIDEO highlights and see what we mean.
Alex Mumbru - Real Madrid