The lights are bright, the crowds are gone, we’re through one game, but the show must go on. That’s right; we are days away from finding out the final Euroleague teams for this season. How nerve-racking this must be for Benetton Basket, Entente Orleanaise, Maroussi BC, and Alba Berlin. Our first qualifier will be determined Friday as Benetton tries to avenge its first loss against Entente, and the tournament comes to a close on Sunday when Maroussi and Alba square off. As we take a look at these future match-ups let’s try and add some historical context to the mix.
Benetton @ Entente Orleanaise: Looking back at the 1st round we see that Entente lost by 2 points in their first game on the road to Spirou, and then came back with fire at home winning by 25 points. Benetton had a similar performance losing by 5 on the road Ventspils and then winning by double digits at home. In the first match-up between these, two, Entente won 73-82, which means Benetton will need to win by 10 to advance. Problem is that Benetton will be playing on the road in France against an Entente team that just dominated them in their last game and looks to be untouchable at home right now. With a Euroleague bid on the line the Solution needs to be more and more and more scoring from Davor Kus and Cartier Martin. Entente has scored over 80 points in their last 2 games and to keep up in this slugfest these two guards really need to reel in some points. Martin did his part last game pouring in 5 three point bombs to finish with 23, but Kus has failed to score that many in the entire qualifying tournament. Kus needs to get his outside shot on par with Martin’s to get the Benetton offensive machine moving. PREDICTION: Benetton gets up early, holds on late.
Maroussi @ Alba Berlin: Benetton isn’t the only team that needs a win this weekend as Alba Berlin also has to crawl out of a 9-point hole against Maroussi. The good news for Alba is that they will be playing in front of their on their ferocious homecourt crowd where they beat Le Mans by 15 points in the opening round. The Problem for Alba is that their players might might be too tired to play before the game even starts. They have only played 9 players through 3 games with 4 of their 5 starters averaging over 27 minutes per game and arguably their two best players (Julius Jenkins and Immanuel McElroy) averaging over 32. To put this in perspective, no one on Maroussi is averaging over 26 minutes per game. This is not a good way to start the season for Alba, but then again this is their death. A Solution could be to keep the starters fresh and make more substitutions. McElroy was the team’s leading scorer last year and obviously does not have his playing legs under him yet as he has only scored double digits once in three games. PREDICTION: Shooter McElroy drops 20 and Alba will join the other 23 teams for your 2010 Euroleague.
See everyone Monday as the Euroleague regular season will finally be set. Yippee!