Last 16 Week Two Preview

21 January 2013

EUROCHALLENGE

15. Jawad Williams (Paris Levallois)
Jawad Williams had a big game for Paris Levallois when his team met BCM in the French Pro A, knocking back 30 points

The Last 16 of the EuroChallenge continues this week with five encounters on Tuesday and three on Wednesday.

 

GROUP I

BK Ventspils vs. Pinar Karsiyaka

BK Ventspils entered the Last 16 undefeated but find themselves facing a crucial game already on the second day of this stage, against the team that is already the strong favourite in Group I.

On Saturday, the Latvians showed signs of recovering from the most testing week in their campaign so far - the only one in which they suffered two defeats - with a 102-71 thrashing of Valmiera in the Latvian Domestic League.

Janis Timma and Donald Sims scored 20 points each and led all scorers while Folarin Campbell added 15 and Ronalds Zakis 14.

Karsiyaka on the other hand were not in action at the weekend because of the Turkish All Star Game, but their back office did not stop working.

The Izmir club has made a good investment for the not-so-distant future by acquiring promising Turkish international Can Mutaf from Fenerbahce.

The 22-year-old shooting guard was one of the stand-out players on the Turkey side that finished in sixth place at the U20 European Championship in 2011, averaging 10.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest.

Meanwhile in Romania, Gaz Medan Medias are playing host to Joensuun Kataja in the Game of the Week that will be streamed LIVE on FIBA Europe TV

 

GROUP J

BCM Gravelines Dunkerque vs. Paris Levallois

There is little, if anything, that the two French sides can hide from each other but certain things have changed since they first met this season, on 7 December.

The Parisians put in a great performance in that highly entertaining game in the domestic Pro A League and reached a convincing 97-83 win, behind 30 points from Jawad Williams.

BCM have gone from strength to strength since then, winning four of their five following games to go to the top of the Pro A standings.

Paris are only one step behind on the table, after a 94-82 setback at Cholet at the weekend, but they are not undergoing a crisis by any stretch of the imagination.

Both sides have their star players in top form, but the visitors have been more consistent in the EuroChallenge, whereas BCM give the impression at times that they lack concentration.

On Tuesday though, they risk suffering a second defeat that could leave them bottom of the group and it is highly unlikely they will not be as focused as they have been during their recent Pro A games.

Hapoel Unet Holon vs. Szolnoki Olaj

Power forward Lawrence Hill did his best last week, so much so that he earned MVP honours for his performance in the 83-66 loss in Paris, but Holon still missed the valuable services of Franklin Hassell.

The American center is the top rebounder in the competition and leads the team in scoring with 18 points-per-game.

He was back in action on the weekend, albeit not at his usual best, in Holon's 79-76 defeat to Altshuler Shaham Gilboa Galil in the Israeli League.

Szolnoki are also coming off a home loss, 78-66 to Radnicki in the Adriatic League, but can take heart from a promising debut by new recruit James Florence, who is expected to make his first EuroChallenge appearance on Tuesday.

The American guard stayed on the court for 27 minutes and contributed 10 points and five assists, with Akos Horvath leading all Szolnoki scorers with 15 points.

Marton Bader and Ernests Kalve, who combine for 42% of Szolnonki's points in the EuroChallenge, combined for just 19 points on Sunday.

The Hungarian center could add another noteworthy page to his European career on Wednesday, as he is only 11 rebounds shy of Fedor Likholitov's 315 in the EuroChallenge.

The 33-year-old Russian big man, who last featured in the competition in last season's qualifiers, with Krasnye Krylia, is the fifth leading rebounder in the history of the EuroChallenge

 

32. Aaron Miles (Krasnye Krylia)
Aaron Miles has been leading the way in assists in the EuroChallenge this season

GROUP K

Khimik Yuzhne vs. Krasnye Krylia

The Ukrainian club handed the reins of the team to coach Zoran Martic on Thursday and has already won back-to-back games in the Ukrainian Superleague in the space of four days.

While Khimik can only think the decision to bring back the tactician who was in charge during a very successful period in the history of the club is justified, it will take much more than good momentum to down Krasnye Krylia.

The Russian side are not only undefeated in the EuroChallenge but have also been polishing up their already solid game lately, claiming one victory after the other in the VTB League.

Power forward Andre Smith seems to have recovered fully from the injury that sidelined him earlier in the season and looks more like the player who wreaked havoc in Italy last season, while point guard Aaron Miles leads both the EuroChallenge and the VTB League in assists.

Krasnye Krylia further bolstered their frontcourt this week, by signing power forward Anton Pushkov from Euroleague side Khimki.

The 24-year-old Russian suited up for his new team on the weekend, contributing two points and two rebounds in the 78-75 victory at Astana.

Norrköping Dolphins vs. Tofas SC Bursa

The Dolphins came from behind to edge out Orebro 83-82 in the Swedish League at the weekend, and claim their 13th win in the competition this season.

While coach Paul Burke would have certainly expected a more comfortable victory against an opponent that has a 4-18 record, he must be delighted by the performances of the duo of Swedish internationals that joined his team over the winter break.

Center Joakim Kjellbom led all scorers with 25 points and added nine rebounds, while Christian Maraker finished with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Tofas were not in action at the weekend and the long trip to Sweden will be much less of a consideration than would normally be the case.

The Dolphins will definitely have to defend better against Tofas than they did on Sunday, because it is unlikely they will score freely on the offensive end.

A high-scoring game as the 93-90 win over Khimik last week was an anomaly for the Turkish side, who normally do not allow their opponents to get many good looks at the basket.

Tofas only give up 71.6 points per contest and have the sixth best defence in the EuroChallenge among all 32 teams that took part in the Regular Season

 

6. Ioana Tofi (Okapi Aalstar)
Ioana Tofi has been showing good form of late for Okapi Aalstar

GROUP L

Tsmoki-Minsk vs. Okapi Aalstar

The Belgian side averted a mini-crisis at the weekend, by beating VOO Verviers-Pepinster 99-80 in the Ethias League to end a three-game slide.

Two key players for Aalstar in both the EuroChallenge and domestically were in excellent form, as point guard Derek Raivio went 8-of-12 from the floor and led all scorers with 21 points, while forward/center Ioana Tofi finished with 16 points and three rebounds.

Minsk were not in action at the weekend and enter the Wednesday clash with the heavy load of five consecutive losses, between EuroChallenge and the VTB League, on their shoulders.

Telekom Baskets Bonn vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg

One thing neither of the two opponents in the all-German clash of Group L could complain about is tiredness.

Both sides sat out this weekend because of the German All Star Game and both seemed to be in good form when they last took to the floor on the first day of action in the EuroChallenge Last 16.

Oldenburg are not only one of the two (along with Krasnye Krylia) sides that still remain unbeaten in the EuroChallenge but are also doing better in the BEKO Bundesliga.

The visitors are in fourth place in the domestic league standings with a 12-6 record, while Bonn are in 13th and fighting for a play-off spot, at 8-10.

The hosts however managed to string together two victories last week for only the third time this season, when they followed up on their Saturday 74-64 victory over New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in the Bundesliga with the hard-earned 65-60 success at Aalstar in the EuroChallenge.


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