Top 16 Groups at first glance

Jan 19, 2009 by Euroleague.net Print
       
GROUP E
GROUP F
GROUP G
GROUP H

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GROUP E ANALYSIS
TOP 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 28-29, 2009
Tau Ceramica vs. Asseco Prokom
AJ Milano vs. Olympiacos
GAME 2
February 4-5, 2009
Olympiacos vs. Tau Ceramica
Asseco Prokom vs. AJ Milano
GAME 3
February 11-12, 2009
Asseco Prokom vs. Olympiacos
Tau Ceramica vs. AJ Milano
GAME 4
February 25-26, 2009
Olympiacos vs Asseco Prokom
AJ Milano vs. Tau Ceramica
GAME 5
March 4-5, 2009
Asseco Prokom vs. Tau Ceramica
Olympiacos vs. AJ Milano
GAME 6
March 11-12, 2009
Tau Ceramica vs. Olympiacos
AJ Milano vs. Asseco Prokom
Tau Ceramica
Final Four regular Tau Ceramica established its credentials as a serious challenger for the title with a brilliant regular season. Tau went undefeated in the second half of the season to win Group C. Head coach Dusko Ivanovic’s squad led the Euroleague in scoring, shooting guard Igor Rakocevic was the competition’s leading scorer, center Tiago Splitter was fifth and power forward Mirza Teletovic was tied for the lead in most three-pointers made. Few teams can match that kind of firepower, which could lead Tau all the way to Berlin.

Olympiacos
The Reds star-studded roster that includes three former Euroleague champs and numerous European national champions came together nicely, as could be seen from the fact that it led the Euroleague in assists. Head coach Panagiotis Gianakis uses his incredible depth – 12 different players started in the regular season and 10 averaged at least 14 minutes per game – to stay strong in the fourth quarter and to win big games. With veterans like Nikola Vujcic and Theo Papaloukas leading the way, Ioannis Bourousis having his best season and Josh Childress making a growing impact, Olympiacos remains a serious championship contender.

Armani Jeans Milano
Despite a slow start to the season, Armani Jeans Milano won five of its last six games to advance a stage in the Euroleague for the first time in a dozen years. Budding star Luca Vitali shined in Week 10 to help head coach Piero Bucchi’s side clinch its Top 16 berth. Vitali teams with backcourt leader David Hawkins to give Milano an excellent perimeter tandem and the athletic Mike Hall has made his presence felt in the frontcourt. Pape Sow and Rocca Mason are a dangerous duo on the glass, making certain that no one will take this team for granted in the Top 16.

Asseco Prokom
Prokom returns to the Top 16 for the third time in five seasons after surviving in Group B – arguably the strongest regular season group that featured five national champs. The lethal scoring duo of David Logan and Dan Ewing teams with big man Pat Burke to form the cornerstones of head coach Tomas Pacesas’s squad. Forward Ronnie Burrell may be Prokom’s most effective player and together with a strong supporting cast that includes some of best young players in Polish basketball, Prokom will look to make some noise in the Top 16.


GROUP F ANALYSIS
TOP 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 28-29, 2009
Real Madrid vs. Regal FCB
Maccabi Electra vs. Alba Berlin
GAME 2
February 4-5, 2009
Alba Berlin vs. Real Madrid
Regal FCB vs. Maccabi Electra
GAME 3
February 11-12, 2009
Regal FCB vs. Alba Berlin
Real Madrid vs. Maccabi Electra
GAME 4
February 25-26, 2009
Alba Berlin vs Regal FCB
Maccabi Electra vs. Real Madrid
GAME 5
March 4-5, 2009
Regal FCB vs. Real Madrid
Alba Berlin vs. Maccabi Electra
GAME 6
March 11-12, 2009
Real Madrid vs. Alba Berlin
Maccabi Electra vs. Regal FCB
Regal FC Barcelona
Regal FC Barcelona was the most dominant team in the Euroleague regular season. Head coach Xavi Pascual’s charges not only won 9 games to post the best record in the competition and to win Group B, but their average margin of victory of 19.2 points was second to none. The team boasts superior depth led by David Andersen, Ersan Ilyasova and Fran Vazquez inside and Juan Carlso Navarro and Jaka Lakovic on the perimeter and heads into the Top 16 as a mjor contender for its first Euroleague crown since 2003.

Real Madrid
Europe’s winningest team is back and challenging for glory once again. Head coach Joan Plaza’s squad is as deep as it gets with a 10-man rotation that has a little bit of everything. Star forward Felipe Reyes is the only player averaging double figures in points, but seven other players are averaging between 6 and 10 points per game. The athleticism of Jeremiah Massey and Quinton Hosely at forward, the defense of center Tomas Van den Spiegel, the scoring prowess of Louis Bullock and the floor smarts of playmakers Pepe Sanchez and Raul Lopez keep Madrid a dangerous destination for opponents.

Maccabi Electra
Maccabi Electra got its old spark back after coaching great Pini Gershon returned to the club midway through the season. Under Gershon, forward Lior Eliyahu has played the best basketball of his career, while star playmaker Carlos Arroyo and Marcus Brown make up a lethal scoring tandem in the backcourt and big man D’Or Fischer balances them all in the paint. This team may be even stronger than last year’s Euroleague runner-up and will be looking to crash the Final Four one more time.

Alba Berlin
Alba Berlin may have backed into the Top 16 with a Week 10 loss, but head coach Luka Pavicevic proved over the course of the regular season that they are worthy Top 16 club. Backed by record-setting crowds at the o2 Arena, the German champs were strong at home and formidable on the road, even though scorer Julius Jenkins missed half the season with injuries. Immanuel McElroy became Berlin’s go-to guy, while forward Ansu Sesay and sixth man Aleksandar Nadjfeji stepped up when needed. As Alba continues to improve, its dream of crashing the 2009 Final Four at its own arena could become a reality.


GROUP G ANALYSIS
TOP 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 28-29, 2009
Panathinaikos vs. Partizan
Lottomatica vs. Unicaja
GAME 2
February 4-5, 2009
Unicaja vs. Panathinaikos
Partizan vs. Lottomatica
GAME 3
February 11-12, 2009
Partizan vs. Unicaja
Panathinaikos vs. Lottomatica
GAME 4
February 25-26, 2009
Unicaja vs Partizan
Lottomatica vs. Panathinaikos
GAME 5
March 4-5, 2009
Partizan vs. Panathinaikos
Unicaja vs. Lottomatica
GAME 6
March 11-12, 2009
Panathinaikos vs. Unicaja
Lottomatica vs. Partizan
Unicaja
Group A winner Unicaja rides a seven-game winning streak into the Top 16. Head coach Aito Garcia Reneses’s squad overcame injuries thanks to a deep 10-man rotation, with the trio of big men Robert Archibald, Boni NDong and Marcus Haislip balancing the perimeter attack led by Thomas Kelati. The team’s uptempo attack, aggressive and creative defenses, and depth give Unicaja all the tools needed to make another run at glory.

Lottomatica Roma
Group C runner-up Lottomatica Roma came dangerously close to winning its group in large part due to a tremendous season from Sani Becirovic. But the star guard is but one piece of head coach Nando Gentile’s excellent team, which has also gotten great showings from power forward Andre Hutson and guard Ibby Jaaber. If promising teenager Brandon Jennings and center Primoz Brezec can meet expectations as the season progresses, Roma will join the shortlist of challengers for the title.

Panathinaikos
The 2007 champs enter the Top 16 ready to make their run for another Euroleague crown. Panathinaikos boasts eight former Euroleague champs – seven of whom have done so with the Greens. That experience will come in handy as the competition gets tougher. The dominant duo of Mike Batiste and Nikola Pekovic in the paint along with Dimitris Diamantidis, Vassilis Spanoulis and Sarunas Jasikevicus outside give legendary head coach Zeljko Obradovic plenty to work with as Panathinaikos mounts another run at the title.

Partizan
Head coach Dusko Vujosevic has his up-and-coming Partizan squad playing confident and aggressive basketball that has it in the Top 16 for the second year running. Forwards Novica Velickovic, Stephane Lasme and teenage sensation Jan Vesely led the way as Partizan led all teams in offensive rebounding, while Aleksandar Rasic and Milenko Tepic are a top-notch backcourt. More than just talent, Partizan’s secret has been 40 minutes of hustle every night and that recipe may be enough to keep the Serbian champs going into the Quarterfinal Playoffs and beyond.


GROUP H ANALYSIS
TOP 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 28-29, 2009
Cibona vs. Montepaschi
Fenerbahce Ulker vs. CSKA Moscow
GAME 2
February 4-5, 2009
CSKA Moscow vs. Cibona
Montepaschi vs. Fenerbahce Ulker
GAME 3
February 11-12, 2009
Montepaschi vs. CSKA Moscow
Cibona vs. Fenerbahce Ulker
GAME 4
February 25-26, 2009
CSKA Moscow vs Montepaschi
Fenerbahce Ulker vs. Cibona
GAME 5
March 4-5, 2009
Montepaschi vs. Cibona
CSKA Moscow vs. Fenerbahce Ulker
GAME 6
March 11-12, 2009
Cibona vs. CSKA Moscow
Fenerbahce Ulker vs. Montepaschi
Fenerbahce Ulker
CSKA Moscow
Reigning champion CSKA Moscow won Group D thanks to its trademark defense. Head coach Ettore Messina’s men allowed the fewest points in the regular season and were the best three-point shooting team by far, despite injuries that caused key players Matjaz Smodis, J.R. Holden and Ramunas Siskauskas to miss multiple games. With all of them now healthy, newcomers Erazem Lorbek and Zoran Planinic acclimated to the system, and Trajan Langdon and Viktor Khryapa playing as well as ever, there is every reason to expect CSKA to be even stronger from this point on.

Montepaschi Siena
The Italian champion under the tutelage of one of the best young coaching minds in the business in Simone Pianigiani is on pace to make a run at the Final Four for the second year in a row. All-Euroleague performers Terrell McIntyre and Ksistof Lavrinovic continue to shine for Montepaschi, while the addition of scorer Henry Domercant to the core of Rimas Kaukenas, Romain Sato and Shaun Stonerook makes this team one of the most dangerous on the continent and a Euroleague title contender.

Fenerbahce Ulker
The Turkish champs feature one of the youngest and deepest teams in the Euroleague and seem to get better from week to week under head coach Bogdan Tanjevic. Injuries caused important players like Gordan Giricek and Omer Asik to miss the entire regular season, while others like Omer Onan and Semih Erden also missed time. With a healthy squad, led by rebounding king Mirsad Turkcan, big man Oguz Savas, sharpshooter Damir Mrsic Kaan and playmaker Marques Green, Fenerbahce Ulker has plenty of reason to believe that this is its year.

Cibona
Under new coach Velimir Perasovic, Cibona began the season 4-1 for its best start in years as it cruised to the Top 16. Late in the season, the club added former Euroleague champ Bruno Sundov and scorer Alan Anderson to the core that includes surprise star Earl Calloway and veterans Davor Kus and Niksa Prkacin. Once the newcomers gel with the rest of the team, Cibona will have a deep, well-balanced and dangerous team that will turn some heads as it aims for a spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs.