Round two of the Euroleague qualifying round tips off tonight, meaning that – oh boy – the Euroleague regular season is nigh upon us. This evening, it’ll be Maroussi BC hosting Alba Berlin and Benetton Basket at home against Entente Orleanise in Treviso. Previews follow.
Maroussi BC vs Alba Berlin. Did Maroussi outplay Aris in the first round or did Aris beat themselves? Until tonight, that question is irrelevant as some others gain in weight, like “Who knew the combination of Billy Keys and Michalis Pelekanos in the backcourt would be this good?” (The two combined for 36 in the second Aris game while Pelekanos added a sick six steals and Keys notched eight boards; in game one, Pelekanos grabbed seven rebounds – all defensive.) One suspects that Berlin will have its hands full with this dynamic guard combo, and the rest of Maroussi isn’t too shabby, either.
Alba Berlin, meanwhile, is all about the ball control, a principle aptly demonstrated in Friday’s game against Le Mans: The German squad turned the ball over just nine times and committed a relatively low 17 fouls in the game while finding all the right spots to shoot a deadly 65.6 percent from the floor – all in all, it was a complete contrast to game one, in which Berlin gave up the ball 15 times and were subsequently rattled enough to shoot just over 44 percent in the game.
To tally an upset here, Maroussi will somehow have to figure out the intricate passing game Luka Pavicevic has created for the 2009-10 edition of his team. How much will Keys and Pelekanos contribute on the offensive end while studiously harassing Julius Jenkins? This will be key (so to speak) to Maroussi’s game tonight.
Maroussi roster: Stephen Arigbabu, Marios Batis, Pat Calathes, Georgios Diamantopoulos, Jared Homan, Kostas Kaimakoglou, Levon Kendall, Billy Keys, Fanis Koumpuras, Jamon Lucas, Diitrios Mavroeidis, Epameinondas Papantoniou, Michalis Pelekanos.
Alba Berlin active roster: Kenan Bajramovic, Adam Chubb, Oliver Clay, Dragan Dojcin, Oskar Fassler, Steffen Hamann, Julius Jenkins, Immanuel McElroy, Andreas Seiferth, Blagota Sekulic, Rashad Wright, Philip Zwiener.
Benetton Basket Treviso vs Entente Orleanaise. All four surviving teams blew out their opposition in game twos, but Orleans may have displayed the fullest package on Friday night. Deadshot addition and 2008-09 Pro A leading scorer Austin Nichols only needed to contribute nine to the team 25-point immolation of Spirou Basket; instead, Orleans got a combined 26 points and nearly 43 minutes off the bench – from Cedrick Banks and Justin Doellman alone.
On defense, they forced 22 turnovers out of the harassed Spirou players. And Orleans’ controlled-yet-aggressive play inside led to 20 fouls drawn versus only 12 committed. Since waking up far too late in game one, Orleans outscored Spirou 94-65 over the last five quarters: That’s just 13 points allowed per quarter or just over a scanty one point per minute.
Of course, Orleans’ would-be first Euroleague bid still must go through Treviso and probably the most fearsome roster in this foursome. On the other hand, Treviso was hardly dominant against BK Ventspils in their two-game series and much of this roster is underperforming. Center Sandro Nicevic managed just seven rebounds total in two matches and contributed 9-of-20 shooting underneath. Much-ballyhooed Davor Kus has been a non-factor, and only Daniel Hackett has been truly impressive thus far for Benetton.
The Orleans home crowd was electric on Friday; could the fans help their plucky squad shock the Italians tonight?
Benetton Basket Treviso roster: Andrea De Nicolao, Alessandro Gentile, Daniel Hackett, Jasmin Hukic, Davor Kus, Cartier Martin, Donatas Motiejunas, Gary Neal, Sandro Nicevic, Andrea Renzi, Andrea Saccaggi, Daniele Sandri, C.J. Wallace.
Entente Orleans roster: Cedrick Banks, Frenc Jowe Casseus, Ryvon Covile, Aldo Curti, Anthony Dobbins, Justin Doellman, William Herve, Mael LeBrun, Adrien Moerman, Austin Nichols, Elio Sadiku, Laurent Sciarra, Ludovic Vaty.