|02 April 2013|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Ludovic Vaty and BCM Gravelines are currently first in the French Pro A standings with a 17-7 record|
EuroChallenge semi-finalists BCM Gravelines Dunkerque and EWE Baskets Oldenburg have entered a week that could define their final position in the standings of their respective national leagues.
Both the French and the German side play twice on the road within a four-day long stretch and will virtually secure as minimum a Regular Season top-three and top-five finish, respectively, if they return from their trips victorious.
BCM go up against Roanne in Pro A action on Tuesday night, in a game that had been postponed because of their participation in the EuroChallenge quarter-final play-offs.
Should they win, the Gravelines side would improve to 18-7 and would finally achieve during the business end of the season something they had been pursuing since autumn.
Namely, to experience solitude at the top of the league standings, as they would finally shake off joint leaders Strasbourg and Elan Chalon, both at 17-8.
BCM find themselves in this position thanks to having "washed away an embarrassment," as shooting guard Abdoulaye Mbaye put it, over the weekend.
Coming off a surprising 98-89 defeat at home to Nanterre last week, the EuroChallenge semi-finalists regrouped and demolished Orleans 86-56 on Saturday, behind 20 points from Julius Johnson and 16 from Ludovic Vaty.
"We played at the level of intensity that we have to show in all games from now on," Mbaye said.
Roanne however have big plans of their own for the Tuesday clash, as they currently stand at 14-10 and a victory would see them go fourth on the table.
Gravelines next travel to Le Havre (11-14) on Saturday and see this as another must-win game on the road, in order to have a safety cushion ahead of the two big games on the road that await them on either side of the EuroChallenge Final Four.
They are playing away at Lyon-Villeurbanne before they board the flight to Izmir and then at direct rivals Strasbourg on the final day of the Regular Season, after their return from Turkey.
|Rickey Paulding accuracy from the three-point line sparked Oldenburg's win against Ludwigsburg|
Oldenburg meanwhile won a second consecutive game at home on Sunday, 88-79 over Neckar RIESEN Ludwigsburg, improving to 19-8 and maintaining second place in the German BEKO Bundesliga standings, ahead of ratiopharm Ulm (18-9).
Ulm however have now back-to-back games at home against theoretically accessible opposition, and expect to register their 20th league victory by the end of the week.
The EuroChallenge semi-finalists therefore consider imperative the task of clinching two road wins in a row, by first emerging victorious at New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig on Wednesday and then winning in Frankfurt, against the FRAPORT SKYLINERS, on Sunday.
If they win both these games on the road and maintain their advantage over Ulm intact, they will enter the big game against Bayern Munich on 10 April more relaxed and even perhaps with a margin for error, as Ulm are playing away at league leaders Brose Baskets Bamberg on the same day.
Oldenburg must definitely be embarking on this trip with their confidence sky-high, after they saw key players delivering excellent performances on Sunday.
Small forward Rickey Paulding, the joint MVP of Game 3 in the EuroChallenge quarter-finals, made six of his eight shots from behind the three-point arc against Ludwigsburg, and led all scorers with 20 points.
Meanwhile Konrad Wysocki finished with 14 points and eight rebounds and Ronald Burrell had 13 points and a game-high nine boards.
Oldenburg have seven games in total left to play in the Bundesliga Regular Season, with six of them scheduled to take place ahead of their EuroChallenge semi-final clash with Final Four hosts Pinar Karsiyaka on 26 April.