Netherlands: Arik Hopeful Astronauts Will Reach Play-Offs

30 November 2004
By Soriebah Kajue, PA International

Demon Astronauts Amsterdam coach Shivek Arik believes a victory over Dexia Mons-Hainaut in the FIBA Europe League on Tuesday would put them within touching distance of the eighth-final play-offs in February.

After losing their two opening fixtures in Group C, the Amsterdam side fought back to claim an 80-74 win over Polish outfit Anwil, and they then stunned Russian giants Khimki with a last-minute 71-70 victory.

"If we win we will have a good chance of qualifying," coach Arik Shivek told PA International.

Amsterdam will focus their attentions on stopping Dexia's George Evans (left)
"Khimki and Bnei-Hasharon are the two best teams in the group. The rest of us are fighting for third place - that's how I see it.

"In the last two games, we've have had two great wins and that has brought us back into contention (for the play-offs). We hope to continue that against Dexia Mons-Hainaut."

Amsterdam came up against the Belgian side last year, and hope the experience of that encounter will benefit them this time out.

"We know them very well because we played against them last year and managed to beat them. So, hopefully we will do it again," added Shivek.

American point-guard Teddy Gipson has been instrumental in Amsterdam's success this season, with his penetrating runs and accurate outside shooting.

Shivek knows that the key to his team's progression in the competition is the outstanding team spirit he has managed to produce.

"Joseph Spinks and Teddy Gipson have to play well if we are to win games," he added.

"We don't really have any exceptional players - the other teams have better players than us.

"So we really have to rely on teamwork if we want to win. That's what we did against Khimki and Anwil, they had better players than us, but we played better as a team."

Although Dexia Mons-Hainaut are bottom of FIBA Europe League Group C, having only managed one win in four games, the Amsterdam coach is not taking the game lightly.

"The American George Evans and the Israeli Charly Turgeman are very good players for them, but Evans is the guy that we have to try to stop," warned Shivek

In the group's other fixtures Anwil take on second-placed Israeli outfit Bnei-Hasharon, while Strasbourg entertain Tuborg Pilsener.

In Group A bottom place bottom-placed Bulgarian team CSKA Sofia host Hapoel Galil Elyon who were narrowly beaten in their last game against Fenerbache.

Third play second in the same group when UNICS Kazan take on BC Kyiv in what will be a tight game.

CEZ Nymburk will face group leaders Fenerbahce in the one remaining game in Group A.

Unbeaten Israeli outfit Strauss Iscar Nahariya play RBC Verviers-Pepinster in Group B.

Ionikos travel to Azovmash, while Besiktas Istanbul play bottom-placed BS|Energy Braunschweig. Ural Great Perm travel to JDA Dijon in France to complete the group's ties.

Unbeaten Dynamo St. Petersburg travel to face French team Paris Basket Racing in Group D. Also playing in the group are bottom-placed Olympia Larissa who entertain Ukrainian team Khimik Yuzhny, and EKA AEL Lemesos host Iraklis Thessaloniki.

In the other game in the group, KK Lavovi from Belgrade travel to face Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

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Amsterdam, NED
Wloclawek, POL
Mariupol, UKR
Skopje, MKD
Khimki, Moscow Region, RUS
Kyiv, UKR
Istanbul, TUR
Raanana, ISR
Brighton, ENG
Braunschweig, GER
Nymburk, CZE
Sofia, BUL
Kadiköy-Istanbul, TUR
Kfar-Blum, ISR
Tel Aviv, ISR
Kallithea - Athens, GRE
Thessaloniki, GRE
Dijon, FRA
Yuzhny, UKR
Belgrade, SCG
Larissa, GRE
Limassol, CYP
Mons, BEL
Nahariya, ISR
Levallois, FRA
Pepinster, BEL
Peristeri, GRE
St. Petersburg, RUS
Strasbourg, FRA
Izmir, TUR
Kazan, RUS
Perm, RUS