Last 16 Week Two Preview

25.01.2011

EuroChallenge

7. Bryan Hopkins (Antwerp Giants)
Losing Hopkins is a huge blow for Antwerp, as the American shooting guard is their leading scorer with 17.4 ppg

No Hopkins For Antwerp; Lukoil Wary Of Spartak 

Bryan Hopkins averaged more than 17 points per game this season for Antwerp Giants in the EuroChallenge.

The Belgians won't have the 27-year-old's services on Tuesday night in the Last 16 battle at Dexia Mons-Hainaut or for the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

During an exploratory operation on Monday, doctors discovered ligament damage.

He will have surgery again next week and according to his club will be sidelined for months.

Antwerp are already without Jef Van der Jonckheyd (hip) and Randy Oveneke (knee), so they will have to dig deep if they plan on beating Dexia.

Both sides lost their Last 16 Group J openers last week.

The pool's other clash on Tuesday will be between Pinar Karsiyaka and KRKA Novo Mesto.

Both teams are playing exceptionally well, with Karsiyaka winning in overtime last week at Antwerp and KRKA excelling at home against Dexia.

Karsiyaka are trying to cope without 19-year-old sensation, Furkan Aldemir, who is injured.

Aldemir is the team leader in rebounds (11.7) and blocked shots (1.7).

His last appearance was in Karsiyaka's 101-98 upset of Fenerbahce Ulker on December 19.

Aldemir had 12 points and 11 rebounds against Fener, the defending Turkish champions and one of the best teams in Europe.

In Group I there'll be a couple of very intriguing games.

Bulgarians Lukoil Academic host Spartak Saint-Petersburg in a battle of 1-0 sides while there is also an all-Israeli battle between Barak Netanya and visiting Maccabi Haifa.

Spartak are coming off a disappointing 97-95 overtime setback at Lokomotiv Kuban.

Nevertheless, Henry Domercant's 35-point performance for Spartak earned him the distinction as the PBL's Player of the Week.

Jovica Arsic, the coach of Lukoil, claims his team is the underdog going into the game.

That could be true if, as the club website says, Lukoil point guard Dominic James cannot play because of an injury.

"It is normal that Spartak is the favorite, with such a budget and such a coach (Zvi Sherf), and individual players," Arsic said.

"Now they are even more powerful because (new signing) Patrick Beverly is a very strong guard."

The budget of Spartak is so big that Arsic, who coached the Russian club's Pero Antic at EuroBasket 2009 as the boss of the F.Y.R. of Macedonia national team, said: "Pero Antic is worth half my team and is not even a starter.

"But we will not give up and will give the maximum to get to victory."

Netanya's players have revenge on their minds as they take on Haifa, a club that has beaten them twice on the domestic scene this season.

In Group K, BK Ventspils go after a second straight victory when they take on Norrkoping Dolphins in Sweden.

The other game in the pool pits Sport Lisboa e Benfica against visiting Gravelines.

Ventspils beat Benfica by 35 points last week while Gravelines came back from a half-time deficit to defeat Norrkoping.

Portugal international Heshimu Evans is a big uncertainty for Benfica heading into the game and the coach of the hosts, Henrik Vieira said: "All games in this competition are hard.

"We rely on the public support to overcome the problems that all the European games have caused, particularly in the physical factor.

Vieira also stressed that his team is the underdog, calling Gravelines "a candidate to win the French title and a candidate to win this group, and even the competition."

"They will create problems because they have great players, French and American athletes with a lot of class and European experience."

In Group L, Lokomotiv Kuban are playing in Belgium against BC Oostende and BK Prostejov are going up against BC Zadar in Croatia.

Oostende were impressive winners in the Czech Republic last week at Prostejov.

Tuesday's game will be the 275th the club has played in a European competition.

Prostejov are treating their contest at Zadar as a must-win game if they are to advance from the Last 16.

"I hope that our collective team play on both halves of the court will lead us to a successful end in this important game," Prostejov coach Peter Balint said.


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