|Andrea Cinciarini and Riccardo Cervi are set to become two of the biggest names in the EuroChallenge this season|
The EuroChallenge 2013/14 Regular Season tips off on Tuesday and sees 32 clubs enter a race that will conclude with the Final Four of the competition in April.
The 32 participating teams have already showed us a reasonable sample of their strengths and weakness in this new season, as all national and regional leagues around Europe are in full spin.
We break down the EuroChallenge opening day match-ups in Groups E, F, G and H based on the performance of the teams in their domestic competitions so far.
GRISSIN BON REGGIO EMILIA vs. OKAPI AALSTAR
Season So Far: Reggio Emilia are one of five mid-table teams that stand at 2-2 in the Italian Serie A; Okapi Aalstar are in second spot in the Belgian Ethias League standings with a 4-2 record.
Last Time Out:
Reggio Emilia defeated Caserta 76-59 at home in Serie A action on Saturday thanks mainly to an excellent second-quarter performance, in which they outscored their guests 19-8. James White paved the way with 17 points, Michele Antonutti added 12 points and Greg Brunner picked up a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, also adding five assists.
Also on Saturday, Okapi claimed an important road 76-65 road victory at Belfius Mons-Hainaut on the back of 17 points from Da'Sean Butler, a 15-point, 7-assist display by Derek Raivio and a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds by Christopher Young.
Forward James White leads Reggio Emilia in scoring, with 13.4 points-per-game and rebounds with 7.8 boards-per-game; guard Andrea Cinciarini averages 11.3 points and a team-high 4.5 assists-per-encounter while Troy Bell is the third player to average double-digits in scoring, with 11 points-per-game.
Point guard Derek Raivio leads the entire Ethias League in efficiency with an average rating of 24.2 as he contributes 21.3 points, 3.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds-per-game; forward Da'Sean Butler scores 15.7 points and adds 5.2 rebounds-per-encounter and winger Lee Cummard averages 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds-per-night.
GASTERRA FLAMES vs. TEAM TEHO SPORT
This fixture is scheduled for 26 November - the two teams will commence their EuroChallenge campaign a week later than the rest, on 12 November.
KRKA NOVO MESTO vs. URAL EKATERINBURG
|Aaron Mc Ghee, pictured here playing for Khimik, is back in the EuroChallenge, this time round for Ural Ekaterinburg|
Season So Far: Krka are one of six mid-table teams in the ABA Adriatic League with a 3-3 record; Ekaterinburg are leading the Russian Superleague with a 4-1 record.
Last Time Out:
Krka suffered an 80-79 shock defeat to Zadar on Saturday, their first loss at home this season, as they let slip an 11-point third-quarter lead. Jaka Klobucar collected 17 points and five assists and Edo Muric had 16 points and five rebounds in losing efforts.
Ekaterinburg won 82-71 at Irkutsk behind an 18-point, eight-rebound, four-assist display by Aaron Mc Ghee and a 14-point, 7-rebound effort by Anton Glazunov.
Small forward Edo Muric leads Krka in scoring with 14.3 points-per-game and also brings down 4.7 boards on average; point guard Malcolm Armstead averages 11.2 points and 5.5 assists so far in his maiden season in Europe.
Forward Lance Harris leads Ekaterinburg in scoring with 15 points-per-game and also averages 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest; center Aaron Mc Ghee contributes 13.8 points, six rebounds and 2.2 assists-a-night and point guard Anton Glazunov averages 13 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists-per-game.
TOFAS SC BURSA vs. FORTRESS JASZBERENYI
Season So Far: Tofas are in seventh place in the Turkish BEKO TBL standings with a 2-2 record; Jaszberenyi are joint third in the Hungarian 1st Division with a 4-2 record.
Last Time Out:
On Sunday night, Tofas fell 87-80 to Turkish champions Galatasaray Liv Hospital on the road, in a hard-fought battle that was decided in the final frame. Serhat Cetin had 19 points, Chinemelu Elonu and Jure Balazic finished with 17 points apiece and Rok Stipcevic added 13 points in defeat for Tofas.
Jaszberenyi clinched an 87-78 win over ZTE KK at home, thanks in great part to double-double efforts by Rastko Dramicanin and Nikolas Raivio; the former picked up 27 points and 10 rebounds and the latter finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Shooting guard Marcus Denmon leads Tofas in scoring in the TBL with 17 points-per-game and adds 3.8 rebounds on average; big man Chinemelu Elonu is the team's top rebounder with 6.5 rebounds-per-game and also scores 14 points-a-night on average, while Jure Balazic contributes 12.8 points-per-game.
Power forward Rastko Dramicanin is Jaszberenyi's leading scorer with 21 points-per-game and also brings down eight boards-per-contest; winger Nikolas Raivio makes a similarly massive contribution for the Hungarians, as he averages 18.8 points and 9.3 rebounds-per-game.
KATAJA BASKET vs. CHOLET BASKET
|John Cox returns to the EuroChallenge, this time round playing for Cholet Basket|
Season So Far: Kataja are in fifth spot on the Finnish Korisliiga table with a 6-3 record; Cholet dropped to 4-1 in the French Pro A over the weekend.
Last Time Out:
Kataja enjoyed a 90-54 rout of Namika Lahti at home on Friday, as five of their players scored in double digits, led by Mike Morrison's 18-point, eight-rebound display.
On Saturday, Cholet suffered their first defeat this season, as they fell 79-59 to reigning French champions Nanterre at home, despite 19 points, four rebounds and four assists by Terrell Stoglin.
Mike Morrison leads Kataja both in scoring and rebounding in the Korisliiga, as he averages 15.2 points and 8.3 rebounds-per-game; Renaldo Major and Teemu Rannikko score 12.2 points-per-night on average, with the veteran Finnish international also dishing out a team-best 4.9 assists per contest.
Point guard Terrell Stoglin scores 17.4 points and dishes out 3.4 assists-per-game for Cholet, while combo guard John Cox contributes 17 points and a team-best 3.6 assists-per-contest; Lamayn Wilson averages 13.4 points on average and leads Cholet in rebounds, with 5.6 boards-per-game.
ZZ LEIDEN vs. BAKKEN BEARS AARHUS
Season So Far: Leiden are in fifth place in the Dutch Eredivisie, with a 4-3 record; Bakken march unbeaten at the top of the Danish Basket Ligaen with eight wins in as many games.
Last Time Out:
Leiden edged out Den Helder 72-68 at home on Saturday in Eredivisie action, behind a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds by Joshua Duinker, while Worthy De Jong collected 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.
On Sunday, the Bears cruised to a 94-75 victory away at SISU as Thomas Laerke led all scorers with 23 points and veteran Nicolai Iversen added 19 points and six rebounds.
Center Joshua Duinker averages 16.4 points and 8.3 rebounds for Leiden so far this season while Worthy de Jong contributes 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and a team-best 3.1 assists-per-game and Sean Cunningham chips in with 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds-per-game.
Forward Brandon Penn leads the Bears in scoring with 17.6 points-per-game and also adds 5.3 rebounds on average; young guard Thomas Laerke contributes 16.7 points and Kenneth Barker is the Danish team's highest-rated player in terms of efficiency, as he averages 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists-per-contest.
SZOLNOKI OLAJ KK vs. RILSKI SPORTIST
|Ivan Ivanovic is another player to leave Gaz Metan Medias but remain playing in the EuroChallenge, moving to Tsmoki-Minsk|
Season So Far: Szolnoki stand at 3-3 in the ABA Adriatic League, together with five more teams; Rilski are in fourth place in the Bulgarian NBL with a 2-1 record.
Last Time Out:
On Saturday, Szolnoki claimed a spectacular 102-91 victory at home over Radnički Kragujevac behind a monstrous display by Willie Warren who collected a double-double of 30 points and 10 assists, also adding seven rebounds.
On the same day Rilski suffered a 91-82 defeat at home to Balkan, in spite of Evan Ravenel's double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds and Sean Barnette's 21-point effort.
Point guard Willie Warren leads Szolnoki in scoring with 18 points-per-game and in assists, with 4.8 per-game. Power forward Peter Lorant averages 11.7 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds while winger David Vojvoda is the third player who averages double digits in the Adriatic League for the Hungarians, with 10.8 points-per-contest, also grabbing 3.8 rebounds on average.
For Rilski, center Evan Ravenel is so far averaging a double-double of 18.3 points and 11.7 rebounds in the Bulgarian League, while shooting guard Sean Barnette contributes 17.3 points, six rebounds and four assists per night.
TSMOKI-MINSK vs. BC MURES
Season So Far: Minsk are one of four teams (out of 10 in the pool) that stand at 2-2 in Regular Season Group B of the VTB United League; Mures are currently in 10th place in the Romanian LNB League, with a 3-3 record.
Last Time Out:
Minsk gave a big scare to Euroleague powerhouse CSKA Moscow on Sunday but ultimately succumbed to a 66-62 loss at home. Keith Benson finished with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds in defeat but was the only Minsk player to score in double digits.
On Saturday, Mures enjoyed their most emphatic victory of the season as they smashed CS Concordia Chiajna 109-58 at home. No less than seven Mures players scored in double digits, with Vaidotas Peciukas picking up a game-high 20 points and Goran Martinic collecting 16 points and a game-high nine assists.
Center Keith Benson is Minsk's most consistent player so far and contributes a team-best 20 points and 7.8 rebounds-per-game. Combo guard Branko Mirkovic averages 15.5 points and a team-high 5.8 assists-per-contest and Aliaksei Trastsinetski scores 13 points-per-game, on a league-best 66.7% from three-point range.
Power forward Ivan Ivanovic leads Mures in both scoring and rebounds, as he averages 18 points and 7.8 boards-per-game. Point guard Goran Martinic scores 17.7 points-per-game and dishes out a team-best 6.7 assists on average, while big man Aleksandar Mladenovic contributes 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds-per-contest.