Banvit Bandirma is one of the fastest-rising clubs in Turkish and European basketball; Virtus Rome is a one-time Euroleague champion and three-time continental trophy-winner working its way back to glory. Only one of them will make it to the Eurocup Quarterfinals.
Banvit is a club built largely around players who have remained with the team for several years. In fact, 60.7% of the team’s points this season come from players who are at least in their second Eurocup campaign with Banvit. Another 27% of the Banvit offense comes from Vladimir Dragicevic and Vladimir Veremeenko, who boast a combined 15 Eurocup seasons between them. On the other hand, Rome has seven players who are competing in the Eurocup for the first time, including two starters – Melvin Ejim and Jordan Morgan – who are playing their first seasons of professional basketball. How much will Banvit’s edge in experience matter when the eighthfinals begin?
What Rome lacks in experience – the last time it got this far in the competition was 2006, when Dejan Bodiroga was its star– is made up for with the boost it gets at Palazzetto dello Sport. Rome is 8-0 at home in the Eurocup this season. Banvit has recorded road wins in tough environments, including at Partizan NIS Belgrade and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, but is just 4-4 overall outside of Turkey. With the series’ decisive game scheduled for March 11 in the Italian capital, Rome has an important advantage it can rely on in the second leg.
Power at the point
The point guard matchups could be the determining factor in the series outcome. E.J. Rowland is Banvit’s most productive player this season; he leads the squad in index rating (17.2), assists (4.8 apg.) and steals (1.4 spg.) and is ranked second in scoring (14 ppg.). However he won’t get a moment’s rest against Rome, which employs two starting-caliber playmakers. Brandon Triche was the MVP of the week twice in the first three rounds of the regular season. Rok Stipcevic had the third-highest index rating (18.7) of any point guard in the Last 32. Between the two of them, Rome has a top-tier point guard on the floor for 40 minutes every night and frequently loads up with two playmakers simultaneously.
Did you know?
Jimmy Baron of Banvit is the most accurate free-throw shooter in Eurocup history; he enters the eighthfinals without a miss in 58 career trips to the foul line. Twenty-nine of those came last season while he was wearing a Virtus Rome uniform. Baron, who joined Banvit midway through the Last 32, brings a lot to his new team. He won the Eurocup in 2013 with Lokomotiv Kuban and played under Rome head coach Luca Dalmonte last season, when he was the team’s No. 2 scorer. With Baron able to offer a tip or two to his new teammates on how to stop Bobby Jones or Lorenzo D’Ercole, he could have an impact on the series whether he is on the floor or not.
Vladimir Veremeenko is already the Eurocup career leader in rebounds with 532 entering the series.
Vladimir Dragicevic (308 rebounds) needs 7 more boards during the series to join the Eurocup’s career top 20, which would make him the third Banvit player listed; Chuck Davis is 15th with 331. With his next free throw made, Davis (254 free throws) will break a tie with Rado Rancik for sole possession of second place on that Eurocup career list. Veremeenko (890 points) needs 12 more points to crack the list of top 10 scorers. For Rome, Rok Stipcevic needs 5 more three-pointers to become the 21st player in competition history to make 100 Eurocup triples.