TV Game Preview: Khimik vs. Norrköping

26 February 2013

EUROCHALLENGE

6. Keith Gabriel (Norrköping Dolphins)
Watch the EuroChallenge Last 16 Game of the Week between Khimik Yuzhne and Norrköping Dolphins LIVE on fibaeurope.com, Tuesday at 17:00 CET

If the EuroChallenge Game of the Week were a film competing for an award it would be hard to fit into one specific genre, but you can rest assured that whatever happens in Ukraine on Tuesday, it won't resemble a feel-good musical with a happy ending.

Khimik Yuzhne play host to Norrköping Dolphins in EuroChallenge Last 16 Group K action, in a game that goes even beyond those good old-old fashioned do-or-die encounters.

Depending on the end result at least one of the two teams, or perhaps both, will have to leave the court heart-broken and wave good bye to the competition for this season.

The situation is simpler for Khimik, who know they will continue their EuroChallenge campaign into the quarter-final play-offs if they win on Tuesday.

The Dolphins from their part need to win by a minimum of 10 points' difference and hope that at the same time Tofas Bursa lose to group K leaders Krasnye Krylia in the other game of the night, in Russia.

A Norrköping victory by any margin combined with a win for Tofas over Krasnye Krylia will send the Turkish side to the quarter-finals and leave both opponents in the Ukraine clash wondering what could have been.

 

CURRENT FORM

None of the two gladiators will enter the arena on Tuesday evening fully confident of themselves, as they are both coming off troubling defeats in domestic league action on the weekend.

Khimik at least have the excuse they were playing on the road, but even so coach Zvezdan Mitrovic must be wondering why his team allowed their hosts, Mykolaiv, to score 50 points in the second half and turn the Ukraine Superleague encounter on its head.

The Yuzhne outfit led by a slim one-point margin at the interval but the slump in their performance on the defensive end during the final two quarters resulted in an 82-68 defeat.

Point guard Willie Deane led all Khimik scorers with 14 points and added six assists while Montenegrin small forward Suad Sehovic had 13 points in losing efforts.

The Dolphins meanwhile were playing at home on Friday, but started off on the wrong foot and never really recovered at any point during the game, to suffer a shock 80-67 home defeat to LF Basket in the Swedish Basketligan.

Power forward Christian Maraker however confirmed he is enjoying a good run of form and collected a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Shooting guard Keith Gabriel had 12 points, but center Joakim Kjellbom, who has been a linchpin of the Dolphins offence since his arrival in December, only played for eight minutes and did not write his name on the scoresheet.

 

9. Anton Saks (Norrköping Dolphins)
Statistically, Swedish youngster Anton Saks is the most accurate three-point shooter in the EuroChallenge

SEASON SO FAR

While both teams enter the Tuesday clash with the - quite clear - intention of prolonging their respective EuroChallenge campaigns, the 11 games they have played so far in the competition definitely serve as a sufficient sample of their playing style and characteristics.

Khimik are better than Norrköping in most important statistical categories, with the only exception of shooting the ball worse from three-point distance and committing more turnovers.

The Swedish side score 25.5 points per game on average from beyond the three-point arc, and unless they can keep their shooting to at least 34 percent from that distance on Tuesday, they might run into trouble in Ukraine.

Part of their success from that range is down to the sharp-shooting 23-year-old small forward Anton Saks, who leads the EuroChallenge in three-point shooting percentage with 61.9%.

Their perimeter shooting is necessary to compliment their inside play which in reality was added in late December, when Maraker and Kjellbom joined the team.

The duo of Swedish internationals combine for 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in the EuroChallenge, while Latvian point guard Edgars Jeromanovs, who takes more shots from beyond the arc than from two-point range, averages 12.1 points and 3.9 assists.

Meanwhile the multi-faceted contribution of point guard Willie Deane is extremely important for Khimik.

The veteran American is instrumental on the offensive end, leading the Ukranian side in scoring (15.8 ppg) and passing (5.4 apg), but he also commits more turnovers than any other player in the EuroChallenge, with 3.7 per game.

Backup center Vernon Goodridge might not be particularly intimidating at 2.08m tall and only plays for 19 minutes on average, but that's plenty of time for him to lead the competition in blocked shots, with 1.6 per game.


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