NEWS: According to Euroleague.net, Caja Laboral center Tiago Splitter will miss his next two Euroleague games (at Cibona, vs. Khimki) while resting a bruised left ankle that he hurt in a Spanish League game against Meridiano Alicante this past Sunday. The 2008 All-Euroleaguer (2nd team in ’09) should return in time for the Copa Del Rey in Mid-February and hopefully Euroleague action soon thereafter.
IMPACT: It ain’t easy to replace 13.4 points and 6.2 rebounds, especially with backup Stanko Barac out at least two more weeks with a stress fracture in his giant foot. So that robs the Caja Laboral post of 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds after they’ve already lost their first Top 16 game. For most teams, the rebounding load would fall to the next man up; unfortunately, it’s pretty tough to grab boards from the three-point arc, so that rules out Mirza Teletovic. Look for Lior Eliyahu’s involvement to nearly double with more room to work inside, and hopefully Walter Herrmann can loosen up the joints and give us some of that hyperactivity that brought him past success in both Spain and the NBA. It will be a much smaller lineup, but with Taquan Dean on board they can afford to shift their personnel around and create match-up problems with their quickness. No team has more to gain from this loss than BC Khimki, who figures to be Caja’s main competition for Group H’s second spot.