|A classic Euroleague showdown is set to take place in the Spanish capital on Thursday when Real Madrid welcomes Armani Jeans Milano in Group D. These two teams have not faced each other in Europe's top competition in more than two decades. Their last Euroleague showdown took place in 1987, the year in which Milano lifted the first of two consecutive titles. Real Madrid has taken all the major games against Milano, including in the 1964 Euroleague semifinals, the 1984 Saporta Cup final and in the 1967 Euroleague final. Real downed Simmenthal Milano 91-83 in Madrid on April 1, 1967, to win its third Euroleague title behind 29 points from Emiliano Rodriguez and 23 from Miles Aiken. More than four decades have gone by, but the memories stays intact. This season, Madrid has registered consecutive losses, while AJ Milano looks for its first 2008-09 Euroleague win. Madrid relies on its powerful frontcourt to dominate the game. Felipe Reyes is at right at the prime of his career and Jeremiah Massey is quickly adapting to his new role, while Axel Hervelle, Lazaros Papadopoulos and a recovered Venson Hamilton are ready to contribute off the bench. Reyes will test his rebounding skills against blue-collar forward Mason Rocca, while Papadopoulos and Massey are ready to battle against Mindaugas Katelynas and Joey Beard, since center Pape Sow is not expected to help Milano in this game due to an injury. The matchup between Mike Hall and Hervelle, however, could be the key to this game. There is some good news for AJ Milano, as Luca Vitali and Massimo Bulleri are back in action, ready to share the point guard duties with Yohann Sangare. Madrid relies pass-first playmaker Pepe Sanchez to run the point, with lightning quick combo guard Sergio Llull ready to offer explosiveness. Of course, Milano must worry about slowing Madrid's top gun Louis Bullock. Milano, however, has two reliable shooters in Marco Mordente and Jobey Thomas ready to pull the trigger against Bullock and Llull. Madrid is deep at small forward with Quinton Hosley providing athleticism and power, while Alex Mumbru offers shooting range, experience and driving skills. Hosley will have a strong test against another force of nature, AJ Milano swingman David Hawkins. Meanwhile, Vitali may see some minutes at small forward against Mumbru due to his size and quickness. Madrid needs to run the floor and take advantage of its athleticism in defense. Meanwhile, Milano needs to get Thomas and Hawkins involved, just as it did in the first half of last week's game against Partizan. Above all, this is a classic Euroleague showdown, so sit back and enjoy a big game.
- These two teams have not faced each other in Europe's top competition in more than two decades. Their last Euroleague showdown took place in 1987, the year in which Milano lifted the first of two consecutive titles. Real Madrid has taken all the major games against Milano, including in the 1964 Euroleague semifinals, the 1984 Saporta Cup final and in the 1967 Euroleague final. Real downed Simmenthal Milano 91-83 in Madrid on April 1, 1967, to win its third Euroleague title behind 29 points from Emiliano Rodriguez and 23 from Miles Aiken.
- Power forward Felipe Reyes’s next rebounds will be the 500th of his Euroleague Basketball career. He would become the 24th player in competition history to achieve that feat.
- Point guard Pepe Sanchez has now gone back-to-back games without attempting a shot of any kind. This is the second time in his career that he has done that. Another time he went back-to-back games with attempting a field goal, but did shoot and make free throws. Sanchez has never gone three straight games without shooting.
- Last week center Lazaros Papadopoulos attempted a three-pointer for the first time in his European club competitions career, which consists of 124 games in the Euroleague, ULEB Cup and SuproLeague.
Armani Jeans Milano
- Guard Massimo Bulleri enters this week’s game against Real Madrid needing 4 more points to reach 1,000 for his Euroleague Basketball career. Only 13 of his 996 points to date have come against Madrid. Bulleri has only played one Euroleague game against the club back in November 2000.
- Armani Jeans is shooting 89.7% from the free-throw line through three games this season. No team has ever shot above 83% from the line in a Euroleague Basketball season.
- Armani Jeans is last in the league in rebounding with just 24 per game. It is also one of only two teams without any players with at least 5 rebounds per game.
- If Luca Vitali plays this week, he will have seen action with three different teams in his first five Euroleague game. Vitaly played two games for Virtus Bologna in the 2002-03 season and two more with Montepaschi in the 2003-04 season.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008