|10 December 2012|
While the important issue of qualification has been resolved in Group E, groups F-through-H see six showdown clashes on the final day of Regular Season action that will decide the recipients of five tickets to the Last 16.
|Andrew Albicy leads Paris Levallois in assists and steals |
How they stand: Paris Levallois 4-1 (qualified); Okapi Aalstar 3-2 (qualified); Belfius Mons-Hainaut 2-3; BCMU Pitesti 1-4.
Paris Levallois and Okapi Aalstar have already reserved the two tickets to the Last 16 from the group and will resolve the only pending question in a direct clash for first place on Tuesday night in the French capital.
The hosts had won the reverse fixture in Belgium, 86-76 and will claim top spot in the group if they simply protect that 10-point advantage on Tuesday.
At first glance, the two teams are closely matched with a quite similar offensive output, 87 points on average for Paris and 86.6 for Mons.
In actual fact though, the French side are an uncomfortable opponent for Okapi.
The Belgians do not take care of the ball particularly well, committing 16.2 turnovers a night and in Paris they go up against the team that can take advantage of that more than anyone else in the competition.
Paris's fast and agile backcourt, led by point guard Andrew Albicy, steals 12 balls per game, a EuroChallenge best this season.
Once they regain possession they run the open floor efficiently, as they dish out 17.4 assists on average, usually to big man Sean May who connects with the basket in consistent fashion, scoring 21 points per contest.
If Okapi however succeed in limiting their hosts' points from transition and take the game to five-on-five possessions, they stand a very good chance of claiming the important away win since they shoot the ball better, from both two- and three-point range, and are also better on the glass with 35.8 rebounds to Paris's 31.4 a night.
In the other game of the group, Mons-Hainaut welcome BCMU Pitesti and both sides hope to finish with a victory to wave goodbye to the competition on a high note.
How they stand: EWE Baskets Oldenburg 5-0 (qualified); Lami-Véd Körmend 2-3; Szolnoki Olaj 2-3; BC Timisoara 1-4.
Following their vital vicotry over fellow Hungarian side Szolnoki Olaj last week, Lami-Véd Körmend depend only on themselves in the battle for qualification.
However, they have to accomplish a very difficult feat on Tuesday in the FIBA Europe TV Game of the Week.
They host the yet unbeaten EWE Baskets Oldenburg, a side that routed them 95-64 in the reverse fixture, and need to win.
Meanwhile, also in Hungary, Szolnoki receive Timisoara and hope to take advantage of a potential slip-up by Körmend.
Should Oldenburg extend their winning streak to six games, Szolnoki would advance to the Last 16 if they simply defeat the Romanians, by any margin.
Timisoara also have mathematical chances in the event of a German victory in the other game, but would need to prevail over Szolnoki with a 23-point differential in order to overcome both Hungarian sides and take the ticket to the Last 16.
It is certainly a tall order, especially considering the fact the Romanians trailed Szolnoki throughout the entire game in the reverse fixture and lost 93-80 at home.
Timisoara however hope to capitalise on their rivals' recent bad run of form in both the EuroChallenge and the Adriatic League.
Szolnoki dismissed long-serving coach Peter Por ten days ago in an attempt to reverse their fortunes, but have since slumped to two painful defeats.
|Kenny Grant and his SLUC Nancy teammates host Minsk in a straightforward battle for a Last 16 ticket|
How they stand: BCM Gravelines Dunkerque 3-2 (qualified); SLUC Nancy Basket 3-2; Tsmoki-Minsk 3-2; Pizza Express Apollon 1-4.
BCM have already qualified for the next stage, as they hold an advantage over both Nancy and Minsk.
In practical terms, BCM can afford to lose to Apollon and they would still go through to the Last 16, albeit as second in the group.
The encounter in Dunkerque is not without spice though, as the Cyrpiots had produced one of the biggest upsets of the EuroChallenge in the reverse fixture.
They edged out BCM 89-88 to claim their only success in the Regular Season behind an immense 28-point, five assist showing by competition top-scorer Brandon Brown, who is unfortunately playing his last EuroChallenge game on Tuesday, regardless of the outcome.
Minsk had defeated Nancy 78-71 in the first encounter between the two teams, but the point differential plays no role on Tuesday.
Whichever team comes out on top in France on Tuesday will qualify, and Nancy must feel they are the favourites, and not only because they play at home.
Jean-Luc Monschau's team have won three of their last four games in all competitions and, perhaps most importantly, have greatly improved on defence.
They have given up only 69 points to their opponents in each of their last two games and are now the 11th best defensive team in the EuroChallenge, despite a weak start in this aspect.
How they stand: Hapoel Unet Holon 4-1; Port of Antwerp Giants 3-2; Telekom Baskets Bonn 3-2; Armia 0-5.
Hapoel Unet Holon made their lives much easier last week, by defeating Telekom Baskets Bonn 75-70 at home.
All the Israeli side Holon have to do now on their trip to Port of Antwerp Giants to clinch qualification, is to win or avoid losing by more than 26 points to the Belgians.
If Holon emerge victorious in Antwerp, they would lend a huge helping hand to Bonn as the German side would then qualify even if they lose at Armia.
Regardeless of what happens in Belgium, Bonn will advance to the next phase if they take a road win, by any margin, in Georgia.
While the Giants are facing a tough task, they know they can count on their fantastic fans turning out in numbers in the Antwerp arena to support them in chasing victory.
The reverse fixture in Israel however was largely a Holon monologue, with the hosts cruising to an 88-64 win.
Hapoel's Sean Daniel and Jerome Dyson led all scorers with 18 points while Lawrence Hill delivered a memorable all-round performance, with 11 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks.
For Groups A-D click here