|14 December 2012|
The EuroChallenge Regular Season, which concluded on Tuesday, offered plenty of excitement and drama, not least on the final day when eight teams secured qualification to the Last 16.
The first six weeks of action also provided us with several points to take into consideration ahead of the next phase of the competition, which gets under way after the Christmas break.
We take a look at some of them below.
|Dru Joyce is one of two Oldenburg players to average five or more assists per game|
SHARING FEELS GOOD
Seven of the eight Regular Season group winners are among the top ten teams in the most assists per game category.
Nobody shared the ball around more than EWE Baskets Oldenburg's players, with an average of 20.5 assists a night, and it's probably not a coincidence that the German side was the second most productive on offence in the Regular Season, scoring an average of 86.2 points per encounter.
Oldenburg had eight players on their roster, more than any other team in the Regular Season, scoring seven points or more per game.
INDIVIDUALISM ALSO PAYS OFF
If your players do not like sharing all that much, they'd better be good.
This notion worked wonders for Okapi Aalstar, who only dished out 16 assists per game to each other, but shot the ball so well from three-point-range, on a competition-best 48.4 percent, that ended up as the team with the highest offensive output in the Regular Season, 87.2 points per game.
THERE IS ALWAYS A THIRD WAY
Krasnye Krylia coach Sergey Bazarevich was one of the best Russian point guards back in the day and an excellent passer.
He has transmitted the virtues of his game to his players, who look for the open man almost as persistently as Oldenburg and shoot the ball with more precision than Okapi, albeit from two-point range.
The Samara team are second in assists, with 19.7 per game, and at the top of the 2-point field goal percentage table (59.1%).
|1.93m guard Folarin Campbell is the top rebounder for Ventspils with an average of 6.7 boards per game|
SIZE MATTERS - UP TO A POINT
While EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Kransye Krylia either top or rate very high in various statistical categories, BK Ventspils, the third team to finish the Regular Season undefeated, is more discrete when it comes to figures.
The Latvians lead the competition in only one category, defensive rebounds, with 30.3 per game and this stat line offers an insight to their success.
More than half the players on the Ventspils roster are under two metres tall and indeed only one, center Martins Meiers, is over 2.08m.
But they make up for what they lack in size with aggressive defence, hassling and fighting for every loose ball.
They manage to protect their rim so effectively that they force their opponents to shoot a meagre 38 percent from the floor and give up only 64.7 points per game,
If the ball does not drop in, as is the case more often than not, a Ventspils player -regardless of his size- will almost always fight tooth and nail to reach it first.
Christophe Denis and Marcel Dan Tenter, coaches of Paris Levallois and Gaz Metan Medias respectively, must often wonder if their players suffer from a fear of heights condition.
Medias averaged only 32.6 rebounds per game while the Parisians were the third worst team in the entire competition in this respect, bringing down a mere 30.5 boards a night.
They are the only teams to have advanced to the Last 16 despite being consistently out-rebounded by their opponents, thanks to their efforts closer to ground level.
Paris averaged 10.7 steals per game while the Romania side stole 8.9 balls a night, converting every time their opponents put the ball on the floor into an opportunity to regain possession.
THE GREAT WALL OF IZMIR
It's easier to find a free spot on the beach in Izmir during the summer high-season than score a basket against the city's basketball team.
Pinar Karsiyaka were the stingiest team in the Regular Season, giving up only 62.5 points to their opponents on average.
The 'defence wins games' cliché is used on a daily basis at basketball courts around the world, but reaching this game-winning defensive disposition is not the fruit of one day.
Karsiyaka mostly achieve this by not allowing their opponents to find the open man or get good looks at the basket, especially the closest they get to it.
Opposing teams shoot a relatively decent 35.1 percent from three-point range, but drop to a low (for the distance) 43.7 percent if they approach the rim.
If the opponent does not take the shot, he will very likely end up turning the ball over against Karsiyaka's pressing defence, that averages 8.8 steals per game.
|Sean May is enjoying an outstanding season both in EuroChallenge and the French League |
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
The unsung heroes of this EuroChallenge season have to be the staff working at the bakery next to Sean May's house in the Paris suburbs.
The American center confessed in a recent interview that the guilty secret of his success is the French pains au chocolat (pastries with chocolate filling), which happens to be the aforementioned establishment's specialty.
May is the second leading scorer in the EuroChallenge, with 22.5 points per contest, on an outstanding 66.7 percent shooting from the floor.
But most importantly, whether it's down to the pains au chocolat or not, he is one of the most consistent players in the competition, earning Week 5 MVP honours and entering the top-10 in efficiency rating on four occasions in the first six weeks of action.
May, who was recently named Player of the Month in the French Pro A, must have shipped some chocolate delicacies over to Israel.
Hapoel Unet Holon's Franklin Hassell is the very definition of consistency, averaging 18 points and 12.2 boards per game.
Hassell failed to pick up a double-double in points and rebounds only on one occasion in the Regular season, when he stayed on the floor for only 21 minutes in his team's clash with Port of Antwerp Giants on gameday three.