By Jeff Taylor
Watch Atomerömü vs. Khimik LIVE here
Tip off Tuesday at 17:30 CET
The only way to describe EuroChallenge Group D two weeks into the 2011-12 campaign is by using these two words: wide open.
BC Khimik Yuzhny, BC Nizhny Novgorod, BK Ventspils and Atomerömü SE each have a victory, and a defeat.
So far, all eight games have been won by the home team, a streak Hungarians Atomerömü will try to extend on Tuesday when they host Ukrainians Khimik.
Having won their opener at home against BC NN, 83-72, Atomerömü slipped up last week at BK Ventspils, 69-56.
The mood was relatively upbeat in the Atomerömü camp after that setback because they had clawed back a nine-point deficit to trail 52-50 with 5:33 to go.
Peter Völgyi's side ran out of steam at the end.
Alarm bells have been ringing since their weekend 82-60 demolition at the hands of Kaposvari, however.
Of all the problems in that defeat, the biggest was the rebounding.
Kaposvari killed Atomerömü on the boards, 39-17.
"It is difficult after such a game to say anything," Völgyi said.
One of the Hungarian national team players to keep an eye on for Atomerömü is Adám Tóth.
In 20 minutes per game so far, the 2.08m power forward/center is averaging 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.
For Khimik, after winning at home over Ventspils, 81-67, the Ukrainian team slumped to an 85-73 defeat at BC NN.
While the club, according to coach Darko Russo, had "a terrible trip from Yuzhny to Nizhny Novgorod" last week, the coach felt his team deserved nothing from the game.
The players, and coach, agreed that there was a lack of concentration on defense and unacceptable profligacy at the free-throw line.
Khimik missed 14 of their 36 free-throws.
The redeeming aspect for Khimik after last week is that the club managed to lose by 12 points after trailing by as many as 17 in the third quarter.
Season So Far
• Khimik aren't playing as well as their coach Russo would like but with eight wins in 13 league games, the club is firmly in the play-off hunt in Ukraine's Superleague. They were not in action at the weekend.
• A lot of questions are being asked of Atomerömü, who finished third in the 2011-12 regular season and reached the Semi-Finals of the play-offs. Crashing to a heavy defeat to Kaposvari was a wake-up call.
|Darrel Mitchell knows what it takes to win in the EuroChallenge, having featured in two FInal Fours in the last three years.|
The Hot Hand
• Donald Cole is Atomerömü's leading scorer in the EuroChallenge, having poured in 19 points in the win over BC NN and the same amount last week at Ventspils.
• Aaron McGhee has scored more than 15 points per contest for Khimik in the EuroChallenge.
The X Factor
• Oleksandr Prokopenko, a 1.90m guard, has made four of his eight shots from long range for Khimik. A player in Ukraine's team at the U20 European Championship this summer, he is just 19. Prokopenko played 20 and 22 minutes for Russo in the club's two EuroChallenge games.
• Ferdinánd Morgen looks to be a nice weapon for Atomerömü, having sunk four of his last five shots from the arc in the EuroChallenge - including the Qualifying Round second leg victory over Arkadia Traiskirchen.
Atomerömü point guard Lorenzo Williams (10.5pts, 4.3ass and 5.0rbs) vs. Khimik playmaker Darrel Mitchell. The latter, 27, has appeared in EuroChallenge Final Fours with Proteas EKA AEL (2009) and BC Oostende (2011) and in his first run with Khimik (2010), averaged 21.3 points and 5.7 assists. So far, Mitchell has yet to get on track for Khimik in Europe this season.