Last 16 Week 5 Preview

18 February 2013

All eight EuroChallenge Last 16 Week 5 fixtures take place on Tuesday, on what could prove to be the most exhilarating day of action in the competition so far.

Up to five teams could clinch qualification to the quarter-final play-offs on the day if results go their way, but there is also the possibility that Tuesday leaves all six spots that are still up for grabs to be decided on the final day of action, next week.

Krasnye Krylia and EWE Baskets Oldenburg, leaders of groups K and L, respectively, are the only two sides to have already secured their presence in the EuroChallenge play-offs.


14. Petri Virtanen (Joensuun Kataja)
Petri Virtanen and his Joensuun Kataja teammates need a win against Gaz Metan Medias to keep their hopes of advancing alive


What Could Be Decided On Tuesday: Pinar Karsiyaka will qualify to the quarter-finals and even secure first place in the group if they defeat BK Ventspils. Joensuun Kataja will be left out of the qualification race definitively if they lose to Gaz Metan Medias.


Joensuun Kataja vs. Gaz Metan Medias

This is a do-or-die encounter for the Finns, who not only need to win but also preferably do so by at least three points in order to keep their options alive in case of an eventual two-way tie with Medias or a three-way tie that also includes Ventspils.

Should Kataja win by only one point while Karsiyaka defeat Ventspils at the same time, the Finns will be eliminated, as they would land on the wrong end of a head-to-head tie with either Medias or Ventspils.

The only scenario in which they could stay in the race with a one-point win over Medias involves Ventspils winning both their remaining games and Kataja defeating Karsiyaka by more than 20 points on the final day.

Kataja went into free-scoring mode in their most recent outing, as they out-gunned Lapuan Korikobrat 103-93 at home in Finnish Korisliiga action on Saturday.

Shooting guard Petri Virtanen was in stratospheric form as he went 5-for-7 from three-point range to register a game-high 30 points.

Jermaine Flowers meanwhile finished with 17 points and Dan Coleman added 16 points and five rebounds.

Medias were also playing at home at the weekend and outlasted Romanian LNB leaders CS Municipal Oradea 71-64 in overtime behind 17 points from Bulgarian shooting guard Ivan Lilov.

Karsiyaka play host to Ventspils in the Game of the Week that will be streamed live on FIBA Europe TV Tuesday at 19:00 CET.


20. Dwight Buycks (BCM Gravelines)
A win against Paris would see Dwight Buycks and BCM Gravelines through to the play-offs


What Could Be Decided On Tuesday: BCM Gravelines Dunkerque will clinch a spot in the play-offs if they defeat Paris Levallois. In case the all-French clash goes to the Parisians instead, Paris will qualify if Szolnoki Olaj KK lose to Hapoel Unet Holon (already eliminated) in the other game of the group. Should both Paris and Szolnoki win on Tuesday, the two quarter-final tickets from this group will meet their rightful owners on the final day.


Paris Levallois vs. BCM Gravelines Dunkerque

The hosts have lost both times they met fellow French side BCM this season, in the EuroChallenge and the domestic Pro A, but Tuesday could be their best chance to prevent this from becoming an unpleasant habit.

BCM are still celebrating the conquest of the French Leaders Cup on Sunday, following a 77-69 win over Strasbourg, and had to play three tough games in quick succession to achieve it.

Paris were also in action in the same competition but last played on Saturday, as they fell in the semi-final, and had only minimum travel to and from EuroDisney, where the three-day event took place.

In either case, both rivals will have one eye on the five-point advantage that BCM have from the reverse fixture four weeks ago, as either a three-way tie (involving also Szolnoki) or a two-way tie between the two French sides is likely to occur.


Szolnoki Olaj vs. Hapoel Unet Holon

Szolnoki came up with one of their most impressive performances this season during their last outing and clinched a morale-boosting 89-72 victory over Union Olimpija Ljubljana in the Adriatic League at the weekend.

The Hungarians might have one win less to their name than the two French sides that currently lead the group, but have the luxury of depending on themselves and one can expect they will pull all stops against the Israeli side on Tuesday in order to maintain this privilege going into the final day.

Holon on the other hand are coming off a heart-breaking 83-82 loss at Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem, and their only motivation in the EuroChallenge at this point is to prove that they do not deserve to finish last in the group.


6. Vitaliy Kovalenko (Khimik)
Vitaliy Kovalenko and Khimik Yuzhne are currently second in group K and hold their fate in their own hands


What Could Be Decided On Tuesday: Khimik Yuzhne will qualify if they beat Krasnye Krylia (who have already gone through) and at the same time Tofas Bursa defeat Norrköping Dolphins. The Turkish side will be eliminated from contention if they lose to the Swedes, even if Khimik fall in Russia.


Tofas SC Bursa vs. Norrköping Dolphins

The stakes are very high for both opponents, but the Dolphins can still maintain some mathematical hopes to qualify even if they lose, provided Khimik also fall in Russia.

Tofas cannot afford this luxury and will enter the Tuesday clash with the fear of a loss weighing heavy on their shoulders, but if things go their way and they defeat the Dolphins by three points or more, they will live to fight another day and will only have to worry about Khimik beating them to second place.

The hosts are coming off a 74-62 loss to last season's EuroChallenge champions Besiktas in the Turkish BEKO Ligi, while Norrköping cruised to a 94-70 road win at Eco Orebro in their last outing, in Swedish BasketLigan action, and even had the chance to rest key players.


Krasnye Krylia vs. Khimik Yuzhne

Khimik have their first match-ball in Samara, but they cannot expect their hosts to roll out the red carpet to accommodate them.

Krasnye Krylia have already secured their place in the quarter-finals but, as they have already demonstrated in the Regular Season of the EuroChallenge they don't see taking it easy as an option and will want to extend their winning streak.

The Russian side is in impressive form and added one more triumph to their account at the weekend, a massively important 75-70 win over Spartak St Petersburg in the VTB League, to go top of their group in that competition.

Khimik meanwhile were last in action on Friday and came from behind to edge out Hoverla 78-75 in the Ukrainian Superleague, but they could count with the support of their fans in the clutch, an advantage they will not have on Tuesday.

Montenegrin Suad Sehovic had a team-high 12 points and added seven rebounds while the frontcourt duo of Vitaliy Kovalenko and Vernon Goodridge finished with 11 points apiece.


5. Derek Raivio (Okapi Aalstar)
Derek Raivio was back on court over the weekend for Okapi Aalstar, who need to win on Tuesday to stay in contention


What Could Be Decided On Tuesday: Telekom Baskets Bonn will accompany EWE Baskets Oldenburg to the quarter-finals if they defeat their fellow German side on the road and at the same time Okapi Aalstar beat Tsmoki Minsk. Okapi will be left out of the race if they lose, regardless of Bonn's result.


Okapi Aalstar vs. Tsmoki-Minsk

A do-or-die encounter is something no team can relish, but at least the Belgian side can take heart from the fact they enter the deciding Tuesday clash in much better shape than a few days ago.

Okapi's star point guard Derek Raivio made his reappearance on Sunday and looked every bit as good as before his three-week long injury lay-off.

Raivio led his team to an 89-68 victory over Leuven Bears in the Ethias League with a 34-point, six-assist performance and demonstrated once again his presence has an enormously positive influence on Okapi's play, especially at the offensive end.

Big man Ioana Tofi was also in form as he collected a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while new signing Lee Cummard contributed eight points and six rebounds.

Minsk meanwhile suffered a 68-57 defeat at Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow in the VTB League but the game had already slipped from their hands by the start of the fourth quarter, when CSKA led by 24 points before taking their foot off the gas.


EWE Baskets Oldenburg vs. Telekom Baskets Bonn

Oldenburg are one of the two undefeated teams in the EuroChallenge since the start of the season and have demonstrated they will go to great lengths to maintain their perfect record intact, so Bonn are definitely not counting on any favours from their fellow German side.

Both teams are entering the clash in good form and have the added motive of gaining a psychological advantage over a domestic rival and possible opponent at some crucial point later in the season.

In the reverse fixture in Bonn four weeks ago, Oldenburg wiped out their opponents' resistance with a majestic third-quarter performance and cruised to an 82-65 victory, after forcing the hosts to shoot 35 percent from the field on their home court.

The group K leaders are the second best team in the EuroChallenge in both points scored and points conceded and are better than their Tuesday visitors in all major statistical categories with the only exception of total rebounds, where Bonn average 36.4 boards per game to Oldenburg's 35.4.


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