|10 December 2012|
|Smiljan Pavic and KRKA face a do-or-die scenario in the final week of the regular season |
The final day of EuroChallenge Regular Season action sees deciding encounters in groups A-through-D, where nine teams in total are still in the race for the remaining four tickets to the Last 16.
How they stand: Pinar Karsiyaka 4-1 (qualified); Tofas SC Bursa 3-2; KRKA Novo Mesto 3-2; Michelin ETHA Engomi 0-5.
The situation in Group A could not be more straight-forward, as KRKA Novo Mesto play host to Tofas Bursa on Tuesday and the winner of this direct clash will earn the right to accompany Pinar Karsiyaka to the EuroChallenge Last 16.
Karsiyaka are the team with the best defence in the entire competition, but Tofas are not far behind, only conceding 69.1 points per-game on average, the fifth lowest mark anywhere in the EuroChallenge.
KRKA are clearly behind in this respect but are still one of the best defensive teams in the competition, giving up 73.4 points to their opponents on average.
Tofas are no slouches at the other end of the floor either, scoring 78.7 points per-night while KRKA have an average offensive output of 77.8 points per-contest.
At first glance, the first game between the two sides in Bursa on 20 November fell in line with their overall statistical averages, as the Turks edged out the Slovenians 82-79.
However, this was the result after 45 minutes of play and only after the two opponents combined for 37 points in overtime.
The end of regulation had found the two sides tied at 62, well below their averages and Tuesday's clash could well be another nervous and tight affair where small details make all the difference.
Bursa's Austin Nichols and Steven Burtt were joint top-scorers in that game with 19 points each.
In Izmir, Karsiyaka play host to Michelin ETHA Engomi in an encounter that will not affect either team's position in the standings
How they stand: Krasnye Krylia 5-0 (qualified); Joensuun Kataja 3-2; Keravnos Strovolou 2-3; CSU Asesoft Ploiesti 0-5.
Joensuun Kataja missed the chance to seal qualification last Tuesday when they defeated Keravnos Strovolou 71-66 and fell a point short of the six-point margin of victory they needed.
The Finns however are in the driving seat thanks to a goal average that is much better than the Cypriot side's.
Kataja can only miss out on the Last 16 if they suffer a heavy defeat away to Krasnye Krylia on Tuesday and at the same time Keravnos win big at CSU Ploiesti.
The combined point differential in the two games would have to be over 55 points in Keravnos's favour, for the Cypriots to pry the ticket to the Last 16 away from Finnish hands.
Their hopes will increase significantly if Kransye Krylia decides to pass the ball around and take most of their shots from inside the three-point arc on Tuesday.
The Russian team has the highest number of assists per game in the EuroChallenge, 21, while they're also the ones with the best shooting percentage from two-point range, 60.4%.
How they stand: BK Ventspils 5-0 (qualified); Södertälje Kings 2-3; Norrköping Dolphins 2-3; Tampereen Pyrintö 1-4.
Södertälje Kings took the advantage in the head-to-head with fellow Swedish side Norrköping Dolphins last week, by prevailing 67-62 in the direct clash between the two teams.
Following that win the Kings earned the right to hold their fortunes in their own hands, but in order to secure qualification they will need to snap the 12-game winning streak of BK Ventspils on Tuesday night in Latvia.
In the reverse fixture in Sweden the Kings had made Ventspils work very hard to preserve their unbeaten run.
The Latvians came from behind to win 82-80 thanks in great part to a 19-point, five-assist performance by Folarin Campbell.
Södertälje's Dino Pita led all scorers with 20 points and continues to be in good form so a similarly deciding display by him on Tuesday is quite possible.
If the Kings do not accomplish their demanding task in Latvia, Norrköping Dolphins and Tampereen Pyrintö, who face off in Finland also on Tuesday, are both in with a chance to qualify.
In this case, a win by any margin would suffice for the Dolphins, while Pyrintö would need to win by at least 11 points to finish on top in the three-way tie and steal the ticket to the Last 16 from the two Swedish teams
|Willie Deane and Khimik are in the driving seat to advance from Group D alongside Gaz Metan Medias|
How they stand: Gaz Metan Medias 4-1 (qualified); Khimik Yuzhne 3-2; Tartu University Rock 2-3; JDA Dijon Basket 1-4.
Khimik Yuzhne are in the driving seat in the race to accompany Gaz Metan Medias to the next phase.
They play host to the Romanians on Tuesday and if they win they will qualify regardless of what happens in France later on in the night, in the game between JDA Dijon and Tartu University Rock.
The Ukrainians can lose and still go through, as long as Tartu also fail to beat Dijon.
Should Khimik fall to Medias though, while the Estonians emerge victorious in France, Tartu will be the team to earn a place in the Last 16.
Khimik have a lot going for them on Tuesday.
They usually make good use of their home-court advantage and they know they came very close to victory in the thrilling reverse fixture in Romania, in which they led with less than two minutes to go before the final buzzer.
Medias however, who ended up winning that clash 88-86, are not indifferent on Tuesday as they would like to take first place in the group.
They can put Khimik in trouble again if they impose their tempo, since the Yuzhne outfit average 79 points per game on offence and do not feel comfortable in high-scoring encounters.
For Groups E-H click here