Last 16 groups at first glance

Jan 12, 2009 by Euroleague.net Print
GROUP I ANALYSIS
LAST 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 27
Maroussi Costa Coffee vs. BC Khimki
Dynamo Moscow vs. Panellinios BC
GAME 2
February 3
BC Khimki vs. Dynamo Moscow
Panellinios BC vs. Maroussi Costa Coffee
GAME 3
February 10
Panellinios BC vs. BC Khimki
Dynamo Moscow vs. Maroussi Costa Coffee
GAME 4
February 24
BC Khimki vs- Panellinios BC
Maroussi Costa Coffee vs. Dynamo Moscow
GAME 5
March 3
Panellinios BC vs. Dynamo Moscow
BC Khimki vs. Maroussi Costa Coffee
GAME 6
March 10
Dynamo Moscow vs. BC Khimki
Maroussi Costa Coffee vs. Panellinios BC
Maroussi
Khimki
Dynamo Moscow
Panellinios BC
Group I of the Last 16 will feature some familiar foes, as two of the teams come from the Moscow region in Russia and the other two from Athens, Greece. Khimki and Dynamo Moscow of Russia and Maroussi Costa Coffee and Panellinios BC of Greece will battle it out to reach the Final Eight, a place that only one of them – Dynamo – reached last year. Nevertheless, each of these teams has not only the talent go far – as evidenced simply by reaching the Last 16 – but also the experience needed to win at this stage of the competition. Khimki can boast former ULEB Cup champ and final game MVP winner Kelly McCarty. Dynamo features a Euroleague and ULEB Cup champ in Robertas Javtokas. Panellinios can turn to veteran Georgios Kalaitzis, who is a former Euroleague winner, rising star Ivan Radenovic, who played in last season’s ULEB Cup final, or even Manolis Papamakarios a 2005 ULEB Cup finalist. And Maroussi has 2005 finalist Kostas Charalampidis and Jarod Stevenson, who reached the semis in 2007.

Maroussi arrives to the Top 16 after winning its last three games to clinch the top spot in Group A on the last day of the regular season. Head coach Anastasios Markopoulos’s system of relying on a deep bench and plenty of substitutions has worked well so far. Eleven different Maroussi players averaged more than 10 minutes per game in the regular season. Standing head and shoulders above them all has been big man Loukas Mavrokefalides, who has teamed with Dimitris Mavroeidis to form a formidable frontcourt. Billy Keys has been efficient as a playmaker, while Charalampidis, Stevenson and Georgios Diamantopoulos get it done on the wings. Khimki lost only one game in the regular season as it edged Benetton Treviso for the top spot in Group C. And this team may still be getting better as it has won despite a coaching change – with Sergio Scariolo taking over during the season – and multiple injuries. With proven Euroleague talents Milt Palacio, Teemu Ranniko and Anton Ponkrashov in the backcourt, superstars Carlos Delfino, Jorge Garbajosa and McCarty at forward and Maciej Lampe and budding big man Timofey Mozgov in the paint, Khimki has the weapons to go all the way.

Dynamo Moscow was the runner-up in Group B, losing twice to Unics Kazan, but sweeping both of its other opponents. Head coach David Blatt put together a strong roster geared towards raising the Eurocup crown in April. The core features several players that helped Dynamo reach last season’s semifinal, including Javtokas, Travis Hansen, Sergey Monya and Sergey Bykov, among others. The revamped backcourt of Jannero Pargo and Hollis Price has been an overwhelming success, while small forward Bostjan Nachbar has filled the baskets and the multi-talented Darjus Lavrinovic makes his presence felt in the paint. Panellinios BC won three of its last four to sneak into the Last 16 with a 3-3 record from Group D. The hero has been Radenovic, who posted the highest index ranking in the regular season despite being the club’s sixth man. But he is in no way alone, getting plenty of help from Jurica Golemac up front, while Anthony Grundy runs the offense and Brad Newley, Papamakarios and Stevan Nadjfeji have been consistent sources of points. Head coach Ilias Zouros brought his team together at the right time and with Radenovic leading the way, Panellinios could keep challenging all the way to the Final Eight.


GROUP J ANALYSIS
LAST 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 27
Turk Telekom vs. Zadar
Benetton Basket vs. Unics
GAME 2
February 3
Zadar vs. Benetton Basket
Unics vs. Turk Telekom
GAME 3
February 10
Turk Telekom vs. Benetton Basket
Zadar vs. Unics
GAME 4
February 24
Unics vs. Zadar
Benetton Basket vs. Turk Telekom
GAME 5
March 3
Unics vs. Benetton Basket
Zadar vs. Turk Telekom
GAME 6
March 10
Turk Telekom vs. Unics
Benetton Basket vs. Zadar
Unics Kazan
Turk Telekom
KK Zadar
Benetton Basket Treviso
Group J features the three teams that are last in alphabetical order in the Eurocup, but they are far from last on any other list. Unics Kazan, Turk Telekom, Zadar and Benetton Basket Treviso are four teams with impressive pasts and presents, who are all worthy of a spot in the Final Eight. But with only two available, every game in this group is certain to bring about high-level basketball with a number of superstars – including some of the top big men in the continent – eyeing a ticket to the next round.

Unics, which finished the regular season with a perfect record in Group B, is looking to reach the Final Eight for the second straight season. Head coach Aco Petrovic’s squad is one of the most attacking-minded in the competition and boasts six players averaging double figures in points. The duo of Tariq Kirksay and Vladimir Veremeenko form a tremendous frontline, while Terrell Lyday and Marko Popovic make up a lethal perimeter attack. Sergei Chikalkin is a dangerous outside shooter and Dmitry Sokolov adds power inside for the team from Kazan, which is a legitimate threat to go all the way this season. Turk Telekom took first place in Group D thanks to a superior inside game. Michael Wright and Erwin Dudley trigger the team from the paint, while Rod Blakney and Tutku Acik share playmaking duties. The athletic Kennedy Winston and sharpshooting Serkan Erdogan round out an experienced rotation. Under the leadership of head coach Ercument Sunter, Turk Telekom has all the skills to challenge for the top spot in this group and some silverware down the line.

Zadar is the reigning Croatian League champion and was the top-scoring team in the regular season, topping the 80-point barrier in all but one game. Head coach coach Denis Plesnic took over for Aca Petrovic midway through the campaign, but the team didn’t skip a beat, thanks in part to a breakout campaign from point guard Rok Stipcevic, the regular-season runner-up in assists. With Malik Dixon back from injury and joining swingman Juby Johnson and forward Hrvoje Peric, Zadar has an excellent perimeter look, while Todor Gecevski and up-and-coming Deyan Ivanov are a true force in the paint. Benetton Basket Treviso is a proven European force with a fine mix of veterans and budding stars. Head coach Oktay Mahmuti’s squad started the season with four straight wins before cooling off and finishing second in Group C. Center Sandro Nicevic and swingman Gary Neal are the focal points of the offense that point guard Bobby Dixon runs. Shooter Domen Lorbek, big men Rado Rancik and Judson Wallace and rugged small forward Matteo Soragna complete the rotation. Benetton is truly one of the biggest names in the sport and seeing it in the Final Eight would be a surprise to no one.


GROUP K ANALYSIS
LAST 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 27
Hemofarm Stada vs. Azovmash Mariupol
Crvena Zvezda vs. Pamesa Valencia
GAME 2
February 3
Pamesa Valencia vs. Hemofarm Stada
Azovmash Mariupol vs. Crvena Zvezda
GAME 3
February 10
Hemofarm Stada vs. Crvena Zvezda
Azovmash Mariupol vs. Pamesa Valencia
GAME 4
February 24
Pamesa Valencia vs. Azovmash Mariupol
Crvena Zvezda vs. Hemofarm Stada
GAME 5
March 3
Pamesa Valencia vs. Crvena Zvezda
Azovmash Mariupol vs. Hemofarm Stada
GAME 6
March 10
Crvena Zvezda vs. Azovmash Mariupol
Hemofarm Stada vs. Pamesa Valencia
Azovmash Mariupol
Pamesa Valencia
BC Red Star
Hemofarm Stada
Group K is arguably one of the most balanced ones on the way to the Final Eight. It features the original ULEB Cup champion Pamesa Valencia, Ukrainian League champion Azovmash Mariupol, as well as Serbian powerhouses Hemofarm Stada and Red Star. Pamesa enters Group K as one of the three unbeaten teams left in the competition. And each team has some special players and leaders that will try to show the team the way to the promised land.

Shammond Williams and Ruben Douglas have started each regular season game, leading the team in assists and scoring, respectively. The addition of Matt Nielsen only improved Pamesa's already strong frontcourt. Kosta Perovic and Ermal Kuqo form an intimidating duo at center, with Albert Miralles and Florent Pietrus backing up Nielsen at power forward. Even with Victor Claver sidelined, Pamesa is a major candidate to reach the Final Eight. Regular season Group E champion Azovmash Mariupol is one of the three reigning domestic champions left in the competition. Azovmash has been able to battle injuries and departures in an outstanding way, winning its last two regular season games behind an outstanding Khalid El-Amin, the team's floor general. Scoring ace Dijon Thompson, center Uche Nsonwu, forward Serhiy Lishchuk and experienced guard Simonas Serapinas complement El-Amin, whose leadership is crucial for Azovmash to make it to the next round.

Red Star is ready to take a step forwards with legendary coach Svetislav Pesic, as his experience at this level can lead the club to new heights. Red Star faces injury problems, as power forwards Tadija Dragicevic and Lawrence Roberts are sidelined for at least several more weeks and are expected to miss some Last 16 games. Vladimir Stimac is set to see extended playing time at center, while sharp shooter Marko Keselj, playmaker Marko Marinovic and versatile forward Elmedin Kikanovic will have to step up to take their team to the Final Eight. Hemofarm reached the Last 16 at the very last minute, on a late basket by Milan Macvan in the final regular season game in Nymburk. Macvan and center Boban Marjanovic are leading Hemofarm's frontcourt with star big man Vladan Vukosavljevic sidelined with a foot injury. Point guard Steven Markovic, scorer Nebojsa Joksimovic, three-point specialist Miljan Pavkovic and experienced guard Bojan Krstovic - no other player has taken part in more games in Europe's second competition, 67 - are ready to complement Macvan and Marjanovic.


GROUP L ANALYSIS
LAST 16 CALENDAR
GAME 1
January 27
Iurbentia Bilbao vs. Artland Dragons
Spirou Basket vs. Lietuvos Rytas
GAME 2
February 3
Lietuvos Rytas vs. Iurbentia Bilbao
Artland Dragons vs. Spirou Basket
GAME 3
February 10
Lietuvos Rytas vs. Artland Dragons
Spirou Basket vs. Iurbentia Bilbao
GAME 4
February 24
Iurbentia Bilbao vs. Spirou Basket
Artland Dragons vs. Lietuvos Rytas
GAME 5
March 3
Lietuvos Rytas vs. Spirou Basket
Artland Dragons vs. Iurbentia Bilbao
GAME 6
March 10
Spirou Basket vs. Artland Dragons
Iurbentia Bilbao vs. Lietuvos Rytas
Spirou Basket
iurbentia Bilbao Basket
Lietuvos Rytas
Artland Dragons
Group L is as balanced as it can be, with some very different teams looking to prove their respective strengths and reach the Final Eight. It is arguably the most unorthodox group in the Last 16 this season. Former ULEB Cup champ Lietuvos Rytas knows what it takes to win a continental title, while Spirou Basket is one of the most experienced teams in Europe's second competition. On the other hand, iurbentia Bilbao Basket is one of the three teams unbeaten so far despite being a newcomer to European club competitions, while Artland Dragons confirms why it is one of the fastest-rising clubs in the continent.

L. Rytas survived a do-or-die situation in its final regular season game and advanced to the Last 16 as a top contender to make it to the Final Eight. Chuck Eidson is its true leader because of his driving skills, determination and athleticism. Branko Milisavljevic and Milko Bjelica complement a group of experienced Lithuanian players that includes Arturas Jomantas, Mindaugas Lukauskis and Arturas Jomantas, who have been playing together for years and want to add another trophy to their collection. Spirou, one of the three reigning domestic champions still alive in the Eurocup, enters the Last 16 as the Group F champion, hoping to use its experience and know-how to make it to the Final Eight. For a club that hosted the ULEB Cup final for four consecutive seasons, it will be even more special to advance to the big event. Spirou is solid down low with Len Matela, Wes Wilkinson and Andre Riddick - the competition’s all-time leader in steals, blocks and rebounds. The team has plenty of firepower with Dwayne Broyles and Matt Walsh and is well-covered at point guard with Jerry Johnson and Justin Hamilton. The time is now for Spirou.

Bilbao has shocked everyone with its outstanding regular season performance, which included road wins against Nymburk, Hemofarm Stada and Buducnost. It is a 10-man team in which everybody feels important, from playmakers Javi Salgado and Jenis Blums to big men Fred Weis and Marko Banic. Streak shooters Predrag Savovic, Luke Recker and Quincy Lewis can change games, while guard Renaldas Seibutis and center Drago Pasalic also play key roles for Bilbao, not your average newcomer to European club competitions. Artland has based its success in center Darren Fenn, scoring ace Adam Hess and playmaker Lamont McIntosh. With Darius Hall expected to be back for the Last 16, he could play a key veteran role along with Dirk Madrich, Chad Prewitt and Drew Nietzel. Those that underestimate Artland could pay a very high price.