Last 32, Group K analysis

Dec 27, 2013 by Print
Last 32, Group K analysis
Montepaschi Siena
Khimki Moscow Region
Maccabi Haifa Bazan
CEZ Basketball Nymburk
After missing the Euroleague Top 16 by a single shot, Montepaschi Siena returns to try to improve on its sole previous Eurocup experience, a quarterfinals run in 2007. Standing in the way is 2012 Eurocup champ Khimki Moscow Region, which was also a finalist in 2010, and carries a nine-game winning streak into the Last 16. Newcomer Maccabi Haifa Bazan is in uncharted waters with nothing to lose, while Czech power CEZ Nymburk has momentum with five victories in its last six game - not to mention six consecutive seasons' worth of Eurocup experience to fall back on.
Vlado Ilievski - CEZ Nymburk
Vlado Ilievski
As the heat rises game by game in the Last 32, three Group K teams will trust veteran ball-handlers to choose wisely, dictate tempo and guide them through tense moments. For Khimki, that person is veteran Marko Popovic, whose shot makes him even more dangerous. For Nymburk, it's mid-season pickup Vlado Ilievski, who went to a Euroleague Final Four in 2008 with Siena. And even for Haifa, 30-something Moran Roth saw Euroleague playoffs action with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv last year. The team whose backcourt must adapt is Siena. Only Taylor Rochestie has experience this late in European competition, three Last 16 games with Galatasaray in 2010. He and Siena's guards will have to get experience on the fly.
Taylor Rochestie - Montepaschi Siena - EB13_52839
Taylor Rochestie
Donta Smith - Maccabi Haifa - EC13 (photo Mikus Klavins, VEF Riga)
Donta Smith
With Donta Smith of Haifa and Paul Davis of Khimki ranked third and fourth among Eurocup performers in the regular season, expect important battles in the paint in this group. Although he stands only 2.01, Smith had 16 rebounds in one game. He has with him fellow power player Ike Ofoegbu (2.05) and the group's biggest body, 2.12 center Alex Chubrevich. The 2.11 Davis has bookend help in veterans James Augustine (2.08) and Kreso Loncar (2.10). Nymburk counters with the effective trio of 2.10 Rasid Malabasic, 2.07 Radoslav Rancik and 2.05 Dylan Page. Siena's is the smallest frontcourt, with 2.08 Tomas Ress and 2.06 Ben Ortner, although the 2.03 duo of Othello Hunter and Spencer Nelson are the team's top rebounders.
Paul Davis - Khimki Moscow Region - EC13
Paul Davis
After a shock home loss to open this season, Khimki arrives to the Last 32 as the Eurocup's top-rated and hottest team, leading the competition in blocks, assists and two-point accuracy while boasting nine scorers averaging between 7.1 and 12.3 points. Its road game to open the Last 32 against Siena will help define the group, as will newcomer Haifa's visit from Nymburk, a club and roster with much more experience at this level. The pressure of every basket counting due to likely ties after six games takes some getting used to. Khimki, Nymburk and, to a lesser extent, Siena, have been through it before and know what to expect. How quickly Haifa adjusts to that reality before its back-to-back games with Siena in the middle of the phase could be the key to shaping the group going into the last two games in February.