|28 January 2013|
Four teams, one in each group, face the prospect of finishing the first round of games in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge with a 0-3 record, should they fail to win on Tuesday.
The impressive comeback of Triumph Lyubertsy from this exact same position in last year's EuroChallenge demonstrated that this is not damning in itself, as the Russian side ended up not only qualifying to the play-offs but also reached the Final Four of the competition and claimed third place.
None the less, it could prove a mountain to climb and it is a challenge that every team would prefer to avoid.
|Folarin Campbell and BK Ventspils hope to rebound from their two losses in EuroChallenge Group I|
Group Standings: Pinar Karsiyaka 2-0; Gaz Metan Medias 1-1; Joensuun Kataja 1-1; BK Ventsplils 0-2.
BK Ventspils vs. Gaz Metan Medias
One of those four teams that are still to taste victory in the Last 16 is BK Ventsplils, who took a much-needed morale-boosting win in the Baltic League on Friday night, 70-58 at Parnu.
Folarin Campbell powered his team to victory with a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Martins Meiers contributed 12 points and six rebounds in the just 14 minutes he spent on the court.
The Latvian side ended a three-game slide, their worst this season, and can look ahead at the Tuesday clash with renewed optimism, especially as they play at home against a team that does not travel particularly well in the EuroChallenge.
Gaz Metan Medias however have every reason to believe their own mini-crisis is now over, as they registered a second consecutive win in the Romanian LNB at the weekend and occupy again a play-off spot for the first time in weeks.
Medias topped CS Municipal Bucuresti 85-67 on the road, behind a well-rounded performance by Ivan Ivanovic who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Pinar Karsiyaka vs. Joensuun Kataja
The team that Medias defeated last week in the EuroChallenge, Joensuun Kataja, bounced back nicely at the weekend with a wide 102-82 triumph over Kauhajoen Karhu in the Finnish league.
Dan Coleman went 8-for-11 from the field and led all scorers with 19 points and Johnell Smith was not far behind, with 18 points, also on 8-for-11 shooting.
The Finnish side however will have to be at their very best to threaten Pinar Karsiyaka in Izmir, as the Turkish side are enjoying a very sweet moment in their campaign right now.
They extended their winning streak to six games (between the EuroChallenge and BEKO Ligi) on Saturday, with an 84-78 success at Mersin BŞB.
Point guard Robert Dixon, despite his 1.78m of stature, grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his game-high 20 points while big man William Thomas went 7-for-9 inside and finished with 19 points.
|Marton Bader and his Szolnoki Olaj teammates have held their nerves in their recent away games|
Group Standings: Szolnoki Olaj 2-0; Paris Levallois 1-1; BCM Gravelines Dunkerque 1-1; Hapoel Unet Holon 0-2.
Paris Levallois vs. Szolnoki Olaj
Szolnoki Olaj took a big 77-72 win away at Hapeol Holon last week and kept on to their lucky suitcases to couple their road wins with a 70-62 success at KK Split in the ABA Adriatic League at the weekend.
The Hungarians could hardly be hoping to travel to Paris Levallois at a better moment, since the French side slumped to a third consecutive loss at the weekend for the first time this season, 87-71 to Roanne at home.
To pile on the misery, center Sean May, who leads the French Pro A in scoring and is one of the consistently best players in the EuroChallenge, delivered his most modest performance in a Paris shirt.
BCM Gravelines vs. Hapoel Unet Holon
The other team in the group that desperately needs to turn things around on Tuesday is Hapoel Holon.
The Israelis are not only bottom of the group but also had a disastrous second half in their domestic league encounter with Bnei Herzelia on Sunday and slumped to a 103-77 defeat.
The only good news for Holon came from the dominant display of big man Franklin Hassell in the paint, who grabbed 17 rebounds to go with his 17 points, while Jerome Dyson showed his shooting remains sharp and finished with 22 points.
They are facing one of their toughest missions this season on Tuesday, as BCM have gone from strength to strength in the last month and followed up on their 82-77 victory over Paris last week with a fourth win in a row in the Pro A at the weekend, that keeps them at the top of the table.
Group Standings: Krasnye Krylia 2-0; Tofas SC Bursa 1-1; Norrköping Dolphins 1-1; Khimik Yuzhne 0-2.
Norrköping Dolphins vs. Khimik Yuzhne
Khimik Yuzhne were not in domestic league action this weekend and had plenty of time to prepare for their trip to Sweden and the clash with Norrköping Dolphins.
The extra days off were a welcome bonus to new coach Zvezdan Mitrovic who took over on 17 January and hardly had time to conduct a training session during the first six days of his tenure, as the team played three games during that period.
Khimik and Mitrovic will face a new-look Norrköping side that has visibly improved after the arrival of Swedish internationals Joakim Kjellbom and Christian Maraker, during the winter break.
Kjellbom already leads his team in scoring in the EuroChallenge while Maraker contributes 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest.
In their two games in the Last 16, both played after the addition of the frontcourt duo, the Dolphins averaged 79.5 points on offence, up almost 10 points from their output during the Regular Season.
At the same time in Izmir, Turkey, Tofas play host to Krasnye Krylia in the Game of the Week that will be the streamed live on FIBA Europe TV.
|Robert Vaden is the top scorer on a balanced Bonn team|
Group Standings: EWE Baskets Oldenburg 2-0; Okapi Aalstar 1-1; Telekom Baskets 1-1; Tsmoki-Minsk 0-2.
Tsmoki-Minsk vs. Telekom Baskets Bonn
Minsk have already suffered one home defeat in the Last 16, a particularly hard to stomach 91-87 loss in double overtime to Okapi Aalstar, and could be left with little margin for manoeuvre in the last three games if they do not take advantage of their home-court advantage on Tuesday.
They didn't do well in this direction at the weekend either, as they lost again at home, this time 80-64 to Lokomotiv Kuban in the VTB League.
Only two players, Alexander Fomin (11 points) and Aliaksei Trastsinetski (10 points) scored in double digits for the hosts, as Minsk committed 18 turnovers and shot 42 percent from the field, to Lokomotiv's 54.
Bonn on the other hand are coming off an important road win in the BEKO Bundesliga, 90-75 at Eisbären Bremerhaven, a direct competitor for a spot in the play-offs.
What's more, the German side won despite being out-rebounded by their hosts, behind a balanced and efficient display on the offensive end, as six of their players scored in double digits and the team shot 62.5 from the field.
Okapi Aalstar vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg
Oldenburg, the other German team in the group, were not in domestic league action at the weekend and must have taken pleasure in watching their Tuesday hosts slumping to a defeat in their own league.
Aalstar fell 73-63 to Ethias League leaders Telenet Oostende after showing great weaknesses in the paint.
They were out-rebounded 43-30 and shot a poor 28 percent from two-point range, but they did see at least small forward Thomas Dreesen having a great game from the perimeter, as he went 6-for-10 from behind the three-point arc.
Oldenburg, along with Krasnye Krylia, are the only team that remain undefeated in the EuroChallenge after eight games in the Regular Season and the Last 16.
They are not however particularly big and the Belgians must take some heart from the fact their lack of size will not be much of a problem in this particular encounter.
Center Christopher Young, who stands at 2.05m, is Aalstar's tallest player but the two sides are more or less equally matched in rebounds and blocked shots in the EuroChallenge.