|26 November 2012|
|William Thomas and his Pinar Karsiyaka teammates are just one win away from the Last 16.|
Up to seven teams could book their place early in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge if they win their respective Regular Season Game Day 4 encounters this week.
Pinar Karsiyaka (3-0) will punch their ticket to the Last 16 if they prevail over fellow Turkish side Tofas Bursa (2-1) at home on Tuesday.
Karsiyaka won the reverse fixture on Day 1, only thanks to a Caner Topaloglu lay-up at the death, but their success so far this season is not down to a simple stroke of luck.
The Izmir side has the best defence in the EuroChallenge after the first three weeks, giving up just 59.3 points per game.
Karsiyaka play great defence, only allowing their opponents 53 shots a night from the floor. 21.7 of the attempted shots are proving succesful, a competition-best stat.
Tofas however, have shown that they are not hugely inconvenienced by this and have already defeated Karsiyaka this season, in the Turkish BEKO Ligi.
On Tuesday, in the other game of the group, Michelin ETHA Engomi (0-3) are on a do-or-die mission against KRKA Novo Mesto (1-2).
If the Cypriots fail to defeat the Slovenians at home, any chance they have of advancing to the round of 16 will come crashing down.
ETHA have the least productive offence in the competition, so far only managing to score 63 points per-contest.
CSU Asesoft Ploiesti (0-3) are in the exact same situation as ETHA as they will abolish all chances to get out of Group B if they do not manage to overcome visitors Joensuun Kataja (1-2) on Tuesday night.
Kataja won the reverse fixture 91-67 but losing by less than 24 points in Romania is not really going to be very helpful. To stand a realistic chance of moving to the next round, nothing short of a win will be required.
On Wednesday, group leaders Krasnye Krylia (3-0) travel to Cyprus and could seal their place in the Last 16 even if they prevail by just a point over Keravnos Strovolou (2-1), regardless of what happens in the Tuesday game.
The Samara outfit had to work very hard to beat Keravnos, 79-74, when the two sides met in Russia three weeks ago.
They have however not dropped a single game in any competition since then and have bolstered their frontline with experienced power forward Jeremiah Massey.
Keravnos however, are also enjoying a great run of form.
The hosts won both their EuroChallenge games after the loss in Samara and also registered their fifth victory in as many games in the Cypriot domestic league over the weekend
|Edgars Jeromanovs will come up against a number of his fellow Latvian national team mates when Norrköping Dolphins host Ventspils|
BK Ventspils have fought tooth and nail to preserve their winning streak on three fronts (EuroChallenge, Baltic league and Latvian League) over the past weeks and one more victory on Tuesday would enable them to start reaping the benefits.
The Latvians will secure a spot in the Last 16 if they win at Norrköping Dolphins (2-1), but it's not exactly an easy task, especially on the road.
Ventspils edged out the Swedes 72-68 when the two sides met on Day 1 of the Regular Season, but that was the only time the Dolphins tasted defeat in a month.
They went on to win both their following games in Europe and are on a five-game winning streak in the Swedish league.
All omens also point to another tight encounter in the other Tuesday game in the group.
Finnish league leaders Tampereen Pyrintö (0-3) are with their back to the wall as they receive Södertälje Kings (1-2). A loss will mean they have to wave goodbye to the EuroChallenge prematurely.
The Tampere outfit however know that they led for big stretches in the reverse fixture in Sweden and the Kings only managed to overcome their resistance in the fourth quarter to reach a hard-earned 74-68 win.
Just like third-placed teams in other groups, simply protecting this six-point margin will probably not prove enough for the Kings.
The Swedes have to win if they are to strengthen their chances of a top-two finish, although unlike Pyrintö, a potential defeat does not condemn them.
Tuesday's Group D encounters are closely intertwined. Should both the visiting teams win, then the group can ultimately be decided with two weeks still remaining in the regular season.
Back on 25 October, the clash between Gaz Metan Medias (3-0) and JDA Dijon (0-3) had everything a fan can ask for.
The two teams scored a combined 181 points and Medias only managed to clinch victory in the dying seconds of overtime, 92-89.
For entirely different reasons, neither of the teams will mind if their Tuesday clash in France is as physically taxing and dramatic as that thrilling clash in Romania, as long as they come out on top.
If the hosts lose to Medias, they only have a slim chance of catching the Last 16 train, depending on a combination of results.
To start with, they would need Tartu Rock (1-2) to defeat Khimik Yuzhne (2-1) in the other Tuesday game.
Then they would have to defeat the Estonians and the Ukrainians by at least 13 and four points respectively, whilst also relying on Medias to win their remaining two games.
Medias on the other hand are facing a much more straightforward situation.
If the Romanian side prevail in France and at the same time Khimik do the same in Estonia, both teams clinch qualification.
Tartu Rock however have good reasons to believe they can prevent this scenario from materialising based on what happened in the reverse fixture - along with their desire to avenge that result.
The Estonian side led for most of the game and were up 73-70 with 1:05 left on the clock.
But they allowed Khimik to score on four more possessions before the final buzzer and lost 77-76, after a three-point attempt by Justin Ingram at the death did not drop in.
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