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Play-Offs Round of 16 preview: PAOK v Iberostar Tenerife


PAOK players, coaches and fans don't have much time to catch their collective breath in the Basketball Champions League because just six days after their heart-stopping Play-Off Qualifier triumph at Partizan Belgrade, the team is at home to Iberostar Tenerife in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie.

The Canary Islanders have played some of the best basketball in the inaugural year of the competition, and the Spanish Liga Endesa, yet PAOK will care very little about that.

"People are going to say we're the underdogs again but you've got to leave it on the court," said the Most Valuable Player of the Play-Off Qualifiers, Thaddus McFadden, of PAOK.

"That's why you love the game. Anything can happen. And we are very confident in ourselves."

And they should be. For long stretches in their tie with Partizan - the second half in the first leg and the first three quarters of the second leg - PAOK played some of their best basketball of the season.

McFadden, Jordan Sibert, Zanis Peiners were excellent in transition and the half-court. Center Clanton and power forward Evangelos Margaritis were effective as well, especially in the first game.

Linos Chrysikopoulos can be excellent off the bench if he keeps his emotions in check while point guard Nenad Miljenovic is proving to be a good back-up.

The three players capable of causing most of the damage are McFadden, Sibert and Peiners, a Latvia international who has been running the floor like a gazelle and playing the game above the rim.

Iberostar Tenerife did not win 11 of their 14 games by accident in the Regular Season of the Basketball Champions League.

They have thrived in the open floor and been able to call on all of their players. The late-game heroics of this team, and especially Davin White, is something to marvel at.

White got the club over the finish line at both Sidigas Avellino and SIG Strasbourg with a 3-point play and a 3-pointer, respectively, in the closing seconds.

Tim Abromaitis and Aaron Doornekamp have been terrific shooting from long range and Rodrigo San Miguel has been the same workhorse point guard that he has always been in Spain, harassing opponents with his defense and hitting the occasional big shot.

PAOK will also be very familiar with Georgios Bogris, the Greece international, and they better be prepared for Will Hanley and Marius Grigonis. The latter played at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics for Lithuania.

Iberostar Tenerife and geared up for this showdown. They will be hosting the second leg on 8 March.

A question that needs to be answered first, however, is which team is going to win the opener?

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