Week 5 Review: A Few Tickets Left

09.12.2011

EUROCHALLENGE

There have been a lot of bumps on the road to the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge but some clubs have played well enough to have secured their passage.

In all, 11 of the teams to play in the next phase of the competition are known.

Two of them, EWE Baskets and Besiktas Milangaz, have five wins and no defeats.

4. Robert  Brown (EWE Baskets)
EWE Baskets have been impessive so far in the EuroChallenge

Four sides - BK Ventspils, Antwerp Giants, Elan Chalon and Artland Dragons - have 4-1 records while Fuenlabrada, BC Nizhny Novgorod, Telekom Baskets Bonn and Pinar Karsiyaka are all 3-2 teams to have punched their tickets to the next round.

While it looks good to have five wins in as many games, the EWE Baskets coach, Predrag Krunic, and Besiktas boss Ergin Ataman, will know it means very little as each of the teams moving on will have the same starting point as they attempt to reach the Quarter-Final Play-offs.

One can only applaud EWE Baskets, however, for finishing top of a Group A that most people expected Fuenlabrada to win.

The German club swept Fuenlabrada, including an 83-77 victory in their second meeting in Madrid this week.

Gustavo Ayon, whom Fuenlabrada coach Porfirio Fisac chose to rest, would have given the team a better chance to win.

But with progression to the Last 16 already assured, no one can argue with the decision to sit the big man since the Mexican center has a lot of big games coming in the weeks ahead.

He will be a more prominent figure for the team in the next stage of the EuroChallenge than his average of 14 minutes in four appearances so far suggest.

Ayon was the Player of the Month for November in the Liga Endesa.

Fuenlabrada rank first in scoring average at 87.4 points per game ahead of second-place EWE Baskets (85.6pts), but the German team is sixth best in terms of points allowed (73.4) and Fuenlabrada are 18th (79.4).

Don't forget that in week two, EWE Baskets were in Oldenburg and demolished Fuenlabrada, 85-66, and Ayon played 19 minutes.

Where EWE Baskets have been fantastic is their efficiency inside the arc. The club has shot 60% inside the arc, which is second best in the competition.

Their turnover rate of 12.6 per contest is among the best of all the teams.

Besiktas Bring In Pops

The other 5-0 team, Besiktas, is riding a two-game winning streak in the EuroChallenge since Deron Williams' departure back to the NBA's New Jersey Nets following the end of the lockout.

Williams still ranks as the leading scorer in the EuroChallenge at 24.6 points per game.

Besiktas claimed a 77-75 victory at Armia this week, with 8,000 screaming fans rooting against them.

While there is no more D-Will, there is Ersin Dagli.

The center was Player of the Week in Round 4 and followed that up with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win over the Georgians.

Besiktas signed Pops Mensah-Bonsu on Friday.

Ataman revealed the player had signed a contract and was to under a medical examination, and that Besiktas were attempting to have Mensah-Bonsu licensed in time to play on Saturday at Banvit.

Mensah-Bonsu, meanwhile, was communicating with his friends, family and fans on Twitter on Friday and revealed that he was in Istanbul.

He tweeted: "Turkish traffic wow!!!!!"

Armia's setback to Besiktas, meanwhile, has complicated their path to the Last 16.

The Georgian outfit plays at ZZ Leiden on Tuesday and if the Dutch win by four points, they will leapfrog Armia into second place and progress to the Last 16.

In Group C, Chorale Roanne Basket are 4-1 after this week's 70-63 victory over BC Goverla (0-5) but have yet to seal a place in the Last 16.

BK Prostejov and BK Pardubice (both 3-2) are behind them.

Roanne host Prostejov, who fell at Pardubice this week when Maurice Hampton scored 22 points.

Hampton, 27, has made 12 of his 20 shots from long range and is averaging 17.6 points per contest.

Corey Muirhead and Marcus Arnold are also proving to be difficult for opposing defenses. Both had 18 points in the win over Prostejov.

In Group D, Ventspils edged a 79-78 Group D thriller at Atomerömü SE.

Lorenzo Williams' three-point play with 12 seconds to go gave the Hungarian side a 78-76 lead but Bojan Bakic went to the other end and connected from behind the arc to lift the Latvian outfit to a narrow win and into the Last 16.

In Group E, Antwerp had to pull out all stops to win at Romanians CSI Mobiltelco.

Julian Vaughn's jumper at the end gave the Belgian side a 74-72 victory and sealed a place in the Last 16.

Not to be outdone, Elan Chalon won by just a single point to seal a spot in the next round.

Blake Schilb had 21 points, including the game-winning free-throw right before the end in an 80-79 victory.

Triumph went down in Group F to their first defeat, falling at home, 68-60 to ETHA.

ETHA (3-2) will play at Okapi Aalstar in a winner-moves-on game with the Belgians having suffered an upset at Olin Edirne this week to fall to 2-3.

Okapi won the first encounter between the sides in Cyprus back on November 22, 80-61.

Pinar Karsiyaka and Telekom Baskets Bonn were the winners in Group G this week to improve to 3-2 while Turk Telekom and BC "Minsk-2006" are each 2-3.

Szolnoki Olaj are 3-2 after this week's 90-85 victory over previously unbeaten Artland Dragons.

The Hungarian club must win at Keravnos in Cyprus, however, to advance.

 


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