Szolnoki Look To Regroup After Tempest

05 December 2012

EUROCHALLENGE

Peter Por (Szolnoki Olaj KK), EuroChallenge Final Four 2012
Peter Por led Szolnoki Olaj KK to the EuroChallenge Final Four last season

Regardless of how their season pans out in the end, Szolnoki Olaj will look back at these past three days as the period that shaped it, one way or the other.

December started with a tempestuous 72-hour journey for the Hungarian club.

On Saturday night, Szolnoki slumped to a heavy 87-53 defeat at KK MZT Skopje Aerodrom, their ninth loss in eleven games in the Adriatic League.

The team returned home and when the players went to practice on Monday they found out that Peter Por, the coach who has linked his name with the most successful period in the club's history, was no longer their boss.

On Sunday night, the club's administration had decided to remove the 44-year-old tactician 'following an evaluation of the team's recent results', according to a short statement published on their official website.

The statement also said that Por will continue his collaboration with the club in a different role, which has not been specified, until his current contract runs out.

Por started his coaching career at Szolnoki and had been at the helm since 2007.

His first assistant, Dragan Aleksic, took over as head coach.

The 42-year-old Serbian knows the club well, having worked alongside Por after ending his playing career there in 2010.

Zoran Kmezic, formerly the second assistant, was promoted to Aleksic's previous position.

On Tuesday night however, Szolnoki suffered a painful defeat at home, falling 94-83 to fellow Hungarian side Lami-Véd Körmend in the EuroChallenge.

The loss came as a shock as they had beaten Körmend on the road in the reverse fixture, 96-92, and replicating that success would have secured them a place in the Last 16 of the competition.

Now Szolnoki have to top BC Timisoara and hope that Körmend lose to EWE Baskets Oldenburg on the final day of Group F action, or their EuroChallenge campaign will come to an end on 11 December.

In the Adriatic League, the Hungarians are bottom of the standings with 15 rounds of games left in the Regular Season and unless they put together a string of successful results immediately they will have no realistic options for a top-four finish.

Szolnoki need to regroup fast, or they will effectively be left out of two competitions by Christmas.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Under Por, the Hungarians won back-to-back domestic league titles and reached the EuroChallenge Final Four last season.

They hosted the EuroChallenge showpiece event and then decided to join the Adriatic League this season, looking for new challenges and more competitive games.

In the EuroChallenge, the club was looking to repeat last year's success, or at least reach the quarter-final play-offs.

Szolnoki now have a further three days to regroup and then they face two consecutive games that will define their targets for the rest of the season.

On Saturday, they travel to Croatia to take on Zadar, a team that has won just one game more than them in the Adriatic League.

A win would finally lift them above the bottom of the table and provide a huge morale boost ahead of the difficult way ahead.

On Tuesday, they have the luxury of playing the deciding game against BC Timisoara at home, in front of their notoriously raucous fans.

If they win that encounter too and manage to secure their presence in the EuroChallenge beyond the Christmas break, they will see the first ray of sunshine after the tempest.


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