By Jeff Taylor
|EuroChallenge 2011 champion Dragisa Drobnjak returns to Oostende, a town he knows very well, and reunites with former team-mates at KRKA|
BC OOSTENDE V NORRKOPING DOLPHINS - KRKA Presence In Oostende
Several months on from hosting the EuroChallenge Final Four, BC Telenet Oostende find themselves in a very different situation.
The team is now in the Eurocup.
Jean-Marc Jaumin's side got a favorable draw in the Qualifying Round and took advantage, cruising past Norrköping Dolphins over two legs.
The Belgians effectively won the tie with an 88-62 first-leg victory in Sweden, but they wrapped up the victory with an 70-67 triumph at home.
Oostende made a very wise move after hosting the EuroChallenge 2011 Final Four at the beginning of May.
They went out and signed two of KRKA Novo Mesto's best players.
KRKA had beaten Oostende in the Semi-Finals before overcoming Lokomotiv Kuban in the Final.
The Belgian club decided to sign Christopher Booker and Dusan Djordjevic.
Booker, a center who turns 30 on October 24, averaged 12 points and seven rebounds for Oostende in the Qualifying Round win over the Dolphins while 28-year-old point guard Djordjevic averaged 3.5 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Djordjevic didn't turn the ball once in the two wins.
Now there is a third player from last season's KRKA team that has joined Oostende.
With center Tomas Van Den Spiegel having suffered a stress fracture of the foot that will keep him out of action for six to eight weeks, Oostende have signed Dragisa Drobnjak on a two-month contract.
The 33-year-old Drobnjak is a player Oostende know very well.
He played for the club two seasons ago.
"Believe me, I'm ready now to give everything to Telenet Oostende," Drobnjak said.
All is not lost for the Dolphins.
The sides that lost their Eurocup Qualifying Round ties will play in the EuroChallenge.
DEXIA v BESIKTAS - Williams Takes Stock, Shivek Causes An Earthquake!
Besiktas guard Deron Williams didn't expect to experience a hard defeat early in his European career, but he has.
In Tuesday night's Eurocup Qualifying Round second leg, Williams was just three of 13 from the floor and finished with seven points, seven assists and six turnovers as Besiktas lost 74-63 at Dexia Mons Hainaut.
Dexia won by three points on aggregate.
"I played like crap and didn't give my team much of a chance," said Williams, who is playing in Europe during the NBA lockout.
|Deron Williams is dissapointed by the poor individual and team performance in Belgium, that led to Besiktas losing to Dexia - but prevented Arik Shivek from causing a second earthquake in Mons|
"But you have to give credit to this team here (Dexia).
"They fought hard, played hard and they made shots. They just competed harder than we did."
Mons fans are still jumping for joy.
The players have spoken about how coach Arik Shivek had some choice words for them at half-time when they trailed 35-28 - a 15-point deficit on aggregate.
When asked if he had yelled at his players, Shivek said to Basketball World News: "More than this.
"They said it was an earthquake in Mons."
Shivek was livid at the break, he said, because he felt his team had proved in the first leg it was good enough to win the tie.
The effort in the opening half by Shivek's players simply had been there.
Dexia ended up winning, and Besiktas failed to get a return on their investment as they had spent heavily to have Williams in their squad.
Shivek addressed this issue.
"A - money is important, and we cannot say that it is not important," he said.
"B - In our club, if you take what we did in the last two years, that a year ago we were playing in the Qualifying Round for the EuroChallenge and now we're in the Eurocup, it says something about the system, the way this club is running. We have a way, a system, a structure in the club and team and part of what is going on this year is the continuation of what we did last year. By keeping a lot of the players we had last year, it's helped a lot on Tuesday.
"My assistant coach and I are trying to give our players all the tools to succeed and I can say the club is doing all it can to give us the tools to be successful."
There has been continuity with the players, and the coach.
Shivek was also run out of town after his first season but ended up staying.
"All of my successful years as a coach were ones in which I worked for more than one year with a team," Shivek said.
To build something, sometimes it takes more than a year. I think what you see now is the result of what we did already last year.
Now Shivek says his players have a golden opportunity.
"The Eurocup is mini-Euroleague level," he said.
"If you take those 16 teams that participated last weekend in the Qualifying Round for the Euroleague, and only two made it, it means that 14 teams that could have played in the Euroleague didn't make it.
"So we know that we are going to play Euroleague level. This is something I told my guys before the game. I said, 'This game is for you, for the club, for the fans.'
|Spartak won both legs of their Qualifying Round tie with ETHA, but the Russian side's coach Jure Zdovc was far from impressed by his players' efforts|
"I told them they could play in the highest level and I'm sure by playing in this level will have a huge impact on our level in the (Belgian) league. Once you play in this league, your level has to go up. And once your level goes up, you get used to playing a higher level and that's what we want."
ARTLAND v GRAN CANARIA - Realistic Koch Looks At EuroChallenge
Artland Dragons coach Stefan Koch admitted after his team's second-leg defeat to Gran Canaria on Tuesday that the Spanish outfit was superior.
It was something Artland knew at the time of the draw, so the failure to progress did not come as much of a shock.
"Anyone who saw the game knows that there was no doubt which was the better team," Koch said.
"Gran Canaria had a better game.
"They performed better in attack and defense."
Artland will now try to make their mark in the EuroChallenge.
SPARTAK v ETHA - Zdovc Not Impressed
Spartak Saint Petersburg coach Jure Zdovc believes his team needs a vast improvement if it's going to make an impact on the Eurocup.
The Russian outfit scraped a 60-59 win the Eurocup Qualifying Round first leg at ETHA in Nicosia, Cyprus, but won 83-64 at home this week.
"I don't see offensive rebounds," Zdovc said. "We practiced them a lot.
"I see a very bad percentage for free-throws, no discipline on offense.
"There were no communications on defense."
ETHA, who will play in the EuroChallenge, out-rebounded Spartak 27-24 and let Zdovc's team grab just six offensive boards.
Spartak were also just 18 of 29 (62.%) at the free-throw line.
POSTEJOV v LUKOIL ACADEMIC - Czechs Focus On Positives
Lukoil Academic claimed an 87-77 victory in the second leg of their Eurocup Qualifying Round tie at BK Prostejov for a 15-point triumph on aggregate.
Czechs Prostejov will, as a result, play in the EuroChallenge for the second straight year.
The defeat could have been more emphatic but Prostejov never gave up.
"I think in the final quarter and especially at the beginning, we showed real character," Matej Venta said.
"We fought for the best result and we did not give up. Such a fight, we should take as a lesson to other games."
The coach of Prostejov, Zbynek Choleva, agreed with his guard.
"We should take the positive aspects, namely our commitment in the first half, and especially in the last quarter," he said.
"We can build on that."