It may seem early on in the 2010-11 season (heck, it’s not even December), but Allen Iverson and his Beşiktaş Cola Turka squad play what appears to be a must-win tonight, as the Eagles face 2009-10 Euroleague competitor Asvel Basket in Villeurbanne, France.
Beşiktaş has already dropped its first two Eurocup games within Group B and, with both BG Goettingen and KK Hemofarm Stada both sitting at 2-0, Beşiktaş would appear to need three wins to comfortably think about advancing to the Top 16 round at very least. On the plus side, Beşiktaş’ losses were by only three and four points, so convincing wins in either of the bottom halves against either top-two team in the one-and-one series could also push the Eagles through – but again, that win in France is a necessary first step.
Expect something of a barnburner tonight, as the hometeam is no. 7 in Eurocup scoring through two, while Beşiktaş is 6th. Interestingly, Hemofarm Stada and Goettingen are nos. 1 and 8, respectively, in the statistic – A.I.’s surely feeling right at home in this bombs-away bunch…
As for excitement stirred up by Mr. Answer’s debut appearance in La Republique, Asvel Basket players and coaches – save maybe one – are playing it cool. “I haven’t heard too much about [him],” said Greens coach Nordina Ghraib, “and I did not mention his name in particular in my [meeting with media] yesterday morning.”
Ghraib went on to emphasize that “I have no specific plans anti-Iverson. Even if he were not playing, his team has enough to cause us problems.” Echoing the sentiment, forward Clifford Hammonds was quoted as stating simply, “We must pay attention to the whole team, not only to Iverson.”
Asvel guard Mickael Gelabale, the man who may be most paying attention to Iverson tonight, meanwhile recalled past meetings with A.I. while with the Seattle Supersonics from 2006 to 2008. “Every time, he had good games,” said Gelabale; Iverson’s scoring totals were in fact 25, 31 and 24 in the three meetings between his Denver Nuggets and the Sonics. “I spent more time defending than attacking.”
Gelebale went on to offer some fellow-feeling for his compatriot former NBAer: “He’s still a very good player, but he must adapt to the different European game and to a new environment. For me too, it was difficult when I arrived in the United States. I hope that tonight he’s still adapting…”
Asvel Basket hosts Beşiktaş Cola Turka at 8.30pm CET (2.30pm EST). In Europe, TV station Eurosport2 will be airing the game at 10.30pm CET.