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Ukraine: Kyiv Wary Of Paris Defense

22 February 2005
Alexei Naumov

BC Kyiv and Paris Basket Racing face each other this Tuesday in the FIBA Europe League play-offs. The 3 game series promises to be close as both teams are evenly matched and finished the group stage in 2nd and 3rd place respectively in their groups.

Kyiv have been worringly inconsistent recently, dropping two games in a row in the national championship. Despite these lapses, the players are confident of stepping up a gear against Paris.

“I hope we are now on the way back to the top now,” said Kyiv center Ioannis Giannoulis

Ioannis Giannoulis is confident that Kyiv are back to their best form
.

Everybody is healthy and in good shape and they understand how important the playoff games are. Their team (Paris) is also younger and consists of better athletes. However, we have more experience, so if we can make them slow down, we should be able to proceed into the next round."

One of the most experienced players on Kyiv’s roster Veljko Mrsic shares his teammate’s vision of dealing with the team from Paris:

“I heard that they are a rather inconsistent team – they can play one game really well and perform poorly in the next one. To win, we should not allow them to make us run their game. We have to keep it under control from the start."

Paris Basket Racing are well-known for their defense, which has been one of the main factors of the team’s success so far this season.

“Defense and rebounding are the key aspects of our game”, said Paris Basket Racing head coach Gordon Herbert, despite not having a dominant center. “We do not have a true center – our big men are 4’s and perimeter players, however, a real team effort makes us strong on the boards."

Even though it’s possible to predict that Herbert’s team will focus on guarding Lamarr Greer, who leads Kyiv in scoring with 18.4 points and 3.9 assists per game, the Canadian coach chose not to disclose his game plan in public.

“Kyiv have a strong and well balanced team. They are favorites in this match up since they finished second in the group," he said.

Herbert, however, does not feel that home court advantage for Kyiv will be a disadvantage for his team. “We’ve been playing better on the road this year and our first away loss came in the middle of December.”

Clint Harrison, who averages 17.7 points per game and John Lienehan, who causes problems for his opposition with his defense, seem to concern BC Kyiv’s head coach Renato Pasquali the most:

“Harrison is the most talented player on the Paris team. He is a great shooter and I am surprised he is not on a top-class team. John Lienehen’s full court pressure is amazing, however he is not a great shooter.

“In tomorrow’s game we have to pay attention to boxing out, since Paris are a very physical team and they may grab many offensive rebounds. We also have to run the offence knowing there will be a lot of pressure on us. Finding the right rhythm for running our plays will mean a lot. Paris’s strong sides are defense and fast breaks – teams that play against them usually have problems running their offensive sets.”

In an earlier interview with fibaeurope.com, Gordon Herbert said that if his team goes past BC Kyiv they would end up in the Final Four. Renato Pasquali says he doesn’t look that far ahead and that making plans even for the outcome of the series against Paris Basket Racing will become possible only after their first match-up.

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