Euroleague Basketball returns to the Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium, on Wednesday when local champion Spirou Basket hosts Virtus Roma in a Group B clash.
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Both teams impressed in their openers last week, but only Roma walked away with a win. Spirou dominated early at Unicaja, leading 3-20 at one point, but was unable to hold on and fell 84-73 in the end.
Nonetheless, the Belgian champion proved it was a worthy competitor at this level despite not playing in the Euroleague in nearly a decade. Meanwhile Roma started the season with an 83-65 win over Brose Baskets and now head coach Matteo Boniciolli’s men will look to stand taller with a road win. Both teams enjoyed standout performances from several players.
Spirou guard Joseph Gomis looked every bit his pre-injury self with 15 points, forward Brent Wright posted his fifth double-double in 15 career Euroleague games and big man Brian Greene netted 20 points. For Roma, swingman Charles Smith was on target for 16 points, Darius Washington was a force at point guard with 13 points and 5 assists and center Andrea Crosariol dominated more than his final stats would indicate.
Crosariol could find himself in a crucial role again this week, as could young swingman Nihad Djedovic for Roma. Charleroi’s unorthodox lineup features three guards and two power forwards, leaving more traditional players like Crosariol, Djedovic or Luca Vitali, room to have great impact – positive or negative – on the game.
The matchup at point guard between Washington and Demond Mallet, two veteran playmakers with similar skills, will be a great test for both players. At the other guard spot, Gomis will have a speed advantage, but Smith the size needed to get off picture perfect jump shots.
Spirou will hope Justin Hamilton’s experience will be enough to neutralize Djedovic on defense and to expose him at the other end. Chris Hill and Dwayne Broyles could also play starters’ minutes in the Spirou backcourt, while feisty veteran Jacopo Giachetti and Vitali are game-changers for Roma.
In the paint, Crosariol, power forward Valdimir Dasic and reserve Josh Heytvelt all boast significant size advantages over Wright and Greene. Spirou head coach Giovanni Bozzi will turn to Andre Riddick when he needs a true center, while Roma has Ali Traore for when it needs a powerful offensive threat in the paint.
To win Spirou must stretch the floor by making jump shots and eliminate turnovers after committing 19 last week. For Roma the key is to maximize its size advantage and control the glass to allow its athletic guards to run. Ultimately the game promises to be an exciting early-season contest that could shape the path each team is on.
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