BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Folarin Campbell and his BK Ventspils team-mates are flying high in three competitions |
There is a distance of approximately 1,300 kilometres as the crow flies between the northern Romanian borders and the southernmost entry point in Latvia.
A similarly considerable gap exists right now between Gaz Metan Medias on one hand and BK Ventspils on the other, in terms of the current form of the two EuroChallenge Group I rivals.
If nothing changes in the next three days, New Year's Day will find the Romanian side in a state of crisis and the Latvians as the team to beat, with their morale sky-high.
The Romanian side's losing skid in their domestic league expanded to four games on Tuesday, following an 82-68 loss to CM Universitatea Craiova on the road.
Medias found themselves trailing by seven points at the end of the first quarter, were down 39-28 at half-time, and despite an improved showing in the second half they never managed to mount a comeback.
Once again, coach Marcel Tenter's rotation was short and just seven Medias players saw action on the court.
Aleksandar Mladenovic and Paul Graham scored 15 points apiece for the visitors, with the Serbian forward also collecting 10 rebounds.
Medias were at the top of the Romanian LNB standings just over a month ago, but following this fourth consecutive setback they now stand at 7-7 and have dropped below the middle of the table, for the first time this season.
They have precious little time to regroup before they take on BC Timba Timisoara at home on 21 December, in their last game in 2012.
Ventspils Extend Winning Streak
In stark contrast, Ventspils could spend Christmas happier than a child at a toy factory.
Ventspils play host to Jurmala in the Latvian League on Wednesday night and then face the bottom-of-the table Latvian U18 national team on Saturday.
Should Ventspils win both encounters, they will climb to second place in the standings with an 8-1 record and six games in hand over league leaders Valmiera (currently 11-3), the only side to have defeated them in any competition this season.
The Latvians tasted defeat on 26 October and have since gone on a 15-game winning streak on three fronts, EuroChallenge, Baltic League and Latvian league.
Their latest success came on Sunday, as they routed Kazakhstan side Barsy 79-56 and finished their regular season obligations in the Baltic League undefeated after 10 games to top Group A.
Martins Laksa went 9-for-12 from the floor and led all scorers with 22 points and
Ronalds Zakis chipped in with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Both Ventspils and Medias play on the road when the EuroChallenge resumes on 15 January.
The Latvians take on Joensuun Kataja while the Romanian side travel to Turkey to face Pinar Karsiyaka in Group I action.