Who will make history on Wednesday: Umana Reyer Venezia or Sidigas Scandone Avellino?
VENICE (FIBA Europe Cup) - The new FIBA Europe Cup champion will be crowed at the Palasport Taliercio in Venice on Wednesday evening, with Umana Reyer Venezia hosting Sidigas Scandone Avellino in the decisive duel.
Having won the first game of the Final on the road 77-69, the Walter De Raffaele-coached Venice side are closer to securing their first international trophy but result has by no means ruled out the possibility of a second-leg turnaround.
Despite ferocious home support, the Wolves of Avellino were forced to surrender to an impressive all-around team effort by the visiting Reyer who had 11 players on the scoreboard by the end of the game.
Scandone found it hard to stay competitive throughout the game due to their unusually poor three-point shooting, connecting on just 4-of-20 attempts from beyond the arc.
"The game against Avellino is do-or-die," said Gianluca Tucci, the assistant coach of Reyer Venezia in a traditional pre-game statement who stressed the importance of playing the second leg at home.
"They are a team that we know well and they, in turn, know us well too. Therefore, we have been working hard in the gym, trying to be more versatile and unpredictable."
The momentum arrow is definitely pointing towards the Italian championship leaders Venezia right now and that was proven to be the case during the weekend's Serie A action as well.
With Olimpia Milano slipping up once again, they took control of the standings after improving to a league-best 22-6 record following a 104-85 victory against Capo d'Orlando on Sunday.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Avellino fell to Dinamo Sassari 80-67 on their home floor to the disappointment of their supporters.
"We apologize to the public, the whistles we received were deserved. A team that arrives at this point of the championship cannot approach a game in this way," spoke Avellino playcaller Stefano Sacripanti after the double-digit defeat. "I hope it will serve as a lesson and give us a charge to remain united in times of difficulty. Now, we need to think about the FIBA Europe Cup."
One thing that might give Venezia pause and an extra bit of motivation for Avellino is the status of guard Stefano Tonut who suffered a shoulder injury in the last game and is considered questionable at this point.
One way or another, the second leg of the Final is set to make history with one of the teams bound to lift their first international trophy. Reyer Venezia may have their noses in front, but Avellino are well within a fighting chance.
Time: Wednesday, 20:30 CET
Venue: Palasport Taliercio, Venice
First Leg: Umana Reyer Venezia +8 (77-69)
Domestic Form: Umana Reyer Venezia defeated Capo d'Orlando 104-85 to improve to a 22-6 record in Serie A; Sidigas Scandone Avellino suffered an 80-67 defeat against Dinamo Sassari, dropping to 18-10.
Key Matchup: Kyrylo Fesenko was unstoppable in the first half of the first game, but Mitchell Watt and Paul Biligha, helped by their teammates, managed to stop the Ukrainian low-post threat. The big man battle will once again be the central axis of the second meeting that will either make or break Avellino's chances of pulling off the second-leg turnaround.