Two Euroleague teams whose players know each other well face off in Group C when reigning champion CSKA Moscow visits Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday. Many of Fenerbahce's players were on the Ulker teams that CSKA faced sixtimes in the last twoseasons. This season, CSKA (5-1) downed previously undefeated Winterthur FCB 76-57 last week to take part of first place in Group C. Fenerbahce edged Eldo Napoli 78-83 on the road behind 29 points from Kaspars Kambala (16.3 ppg.) and 21 boards from Mirsad Turkcan (9.5 ppg., 11.2 rpg.), the All-time Euroleague leading rebounder. In fact, Turkcan leads the rebounds standings once again this season, while Kambala is the eighth-best scorer in the competition. Both players lead a solid Fenerbahce frontcourt which also feature up-and-coming centers Semih Erden (5.7 ppg.) and Oguz Savas (3.5 ppg.), as well as power forward Ira Clark (3.5 rpg.). Turkcan will have to get outside to stop Matjaz Smodis (12.6 ppg.), one of the best-shooting big men in the competition, while Kambala and Clark will have a tough mission to slow David Andersen (12.5 ppg.), who fired in 3 triples on his way to 21 points against Barcelona last week. Aleksey Savrasenko (7 ppg.) and Tomas Van den Spiegel (2 ppg.) are ready to offer speed and intimidation at the center spot for CSKA, too. Obviously, Fenerbahce has to worry about All-Euroleague guard Theodoros Papaloukas (10.8 ppg., 4.5 apg.), who has started this season the way he ended it last year - dominating any game off the CSKA bench. Papaloukas runs the CSKA offense playing at any perimeter spot as part of a dynamic offense in which J.R. Holden (9 ppg.), Trajan Langdon (14.5 ppg.) and David Vanterpool (7 ppg.) play crucial roles in giving teams headaches when it comes to matching their versatility and defense. Omer Onan (4.7 ppg.), however, seems to be a good fit to play defense on Papaloukas due to his athleticism and speed. Langdon will test his shooting skills against legendary scorer Ibrahim Kutluay (14.5 ppg.), while Vanterpool will try to slow Will Solomon (11.5 ppg.), who needs to show all his talent against CSKA if Fenerbahce wants to have a good chance in this game. Damir Mrsic (10.2 ppg.), who played a crucial role to make Fenerbahce beat Napoli in overtime, may well be the x-factor for the hosts, while Anton Ponkrashov (4.2 ppg., 80% 2FG) and Nikita Kourbanov may have an impact, too, on CSKA's side. CSKA can expect a tough game in Istanbul from a Fenerbahce side tat feels itself on the brink of busting out to show all its talent.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006