|30 January 2013|
Last 16 Week 3 action in Groups I and J saw all four teams playing at home making the most of that advantage to clinch victory.
BK Ventspils, who had lost their first two games in the Last 16, were among the triumhant home teams but Hapoel Unet Holon remain now the only side to have not registered a win in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge.
|Martins Laksa had his best game for BK Ventspils, just falling short of a double-double|
BK Ventspils - Gaz Metan Medias: 96-64
Latvians are not exactly known for being the most talkative people in Europe, but in any case BK Ventspils coach Roberts Stelmahers did not need to say much to his players prior to their home clash with Gaz Metan Medias on Tuesday.
All 12 men on the Latvian squad, as well as the 1,100 fans in the stands of the Olympic Center, were fully aware this was a must-win game, if the hosts did not want to see their options to advance from the Last 16 diminish dramatically.
Ventspils responded to the challenge in ideal fashion and dominated the encounter from start to finish, having already established a healthy 13-point cushion at the end of the first quarter, to cruise to a convincing 96-64 triumph.
Martins Meiers and Folarin Campbell paced the winners with 14 points apiece, while young forward Martins Laksa came up with his best performance in the EuroChallenge this season, with 12 points on 100 percent shooting, eight rebounds and one assist.
Pinar Karsiyaka - Joensuun Kataja: 89-70
At the same time but 2,150 kilometres to the south of Ventspils as the crow flies, in Izmir, Pinar Karsiyaka were also making a statement of their own in the 89-70 win over Joensuun Kataja.
The Turkish side were uncharacteristically permissive on the defensive end, giving up 70 points to the hard-nosed Finns, but still left two things perfectly clear.
The first was that an opponent needs to deliver their best possible performance to stand any chance of beating them at their home arena.
Karsiyaka has played host to 14 teams since the start of the season between EuroChallenge and Turkish BEKO Ligi and with the only exception of a narrow loss to Turkish league leaders Banvit in November, they have dominated every single one of them.
The second was that, just like in First Round Group A, the only place they see themselves in Last 16 Group I is at the top, from the first to the last week of action.
Point guard Robert Dixon has been in impressive form of late and once again led the way for Karsiyaka on Tuesday, with 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the floor, while shooting guard Jon Diebler finished with 19 points, five assists and five rebounds.
|Jawad Williams picked up his second double-double of the EuroChallenge season|
Paris Levallois - Szolnoki Olaj: 93-71
Center Sean May has been the linchpin of Paris Levallois' successful campaign in the French Pro A and the EuroChallenge but he was coming off his most discreet night in the domestic league this year, in last weekend's loss to Roanne.
He went on to deliver his most modest performance in the EuroChallenge on Tuesday, with 11 points on a poor 38 percent shooting from the field and four turnovers - albeit he still grabbed eight rebounds.
None the less, the Parisians this time found the way to counterbalance for the lack of his usual contribution, thanks mainly to a big game by Jawad Williams, who collected a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds and added two steals.
Antoine Diot and John Cox chipped in with 15 points each and the hosts came back from a 10-point deficit at half-time to clinch a vital, and in the end quite comfortable, 92-70 win over Szolnoki Olaj.
The Hungarian side scored only 26 points and gave up 58 in the second half, but coach Nedeljko Asceric will no doubt read less into that than he normally would, as this was Szolnoki's third consecutive game on the road in the space of one week, with trips to Israel, Croatia and France almost leaving no time to go back home.
BCM Gravelines Dunkerque - Hapoel Unet Holon: 86-80
The other Week 3 game of the group also took place in France, and it was similar to the Paris encounter in the sense that the hosts had to come back, albeit only from six points down early in the second quarter.
Once BCM took the lead they managed to hold on until the final buzzer and register an 86-80 win over Hapoel Unet Holon.
That was hardly the most noteworthy event of the evening though for the 2,500 fans in attendance at Sportica Arena of Gravelines.
The home crowd - and pretty much the BCM defence too - watched in awe as Hapoel's Jerome Dyson went 13-for-21 from the field and scored 42 points, the second-highest mark in EuroChallenge history.
It is almost a cliché to say that a player came close to winning a basketball game single-handedly, but in this case, it is not so far from the truth in terms of the visitors' offensive output.
Three players actually, Week 3 MVP Dyson, Franklin Hassell and Lawrence Hill took 51 of the Israeli side's 57 shots from the floor and combined for 79 of their team's 80 points.
It was not enough for Holon though, as 10 BCM players wrote their name on the scoresheet and the French forced their guests into 19 turnovers, while also out-rebounded them 37-30.
Dwight Buycks finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists while Yannick Bokolo had 14 points and seven assists.