|11 February 2013|
|Ivan Ivanovic and Gaz Metan Medias need to transfer their good domestic form to the European stage if they are to defeat unbeaten Pinar Karsiyaka on Tuesday|
The three teams that lead their respective EuroChallenge Last 16 groups undefeated, Pinar Karsiyaka, Krasnye Krylia and EWE Baskets Oldenburg, will punch their ticket to the quarter-final play-offs if they win in Week 4 action on Tuesday.
Gaz Metan Medias vs. Pinar Karsiyaka
Medias travelled at the weekend to U-Mobitelco BT, a direct competitor for a top-four finish in the Romanian LNB, and escaped with a fantastic 84-59 victory, behind 17 points from Kyle Shiloh.
Karsiyaka meanwhile suffered the disappointment of a premature exit from the Turkish Spor Toto Final Eight, following a 77-69 to eventual winners Fenerbahce in the quarter-final.
Medias will therefore enter the Tuesday clash in a much better state of mind, but this alone will not be enough for the Romanian side.
Karsiyaka are leading Group I on merit and their EuroChallenge campaign is unlikely to be derailed by the setback in the domestic cup competition, especially since a win in Romania will mean they book their place in the play-offs with two weeks to spare.
The hosts like (and need) high-scoring games with many possessions, as they have won all six of their EuroChallenge encounters in which the scores went above 80 points, but only once in the six games so far when the score remained lower than that.
One of those lost games for Medias was the reverse fixture in Turkey, on day one of the EuroChallenge Last 16, when Karsiyaka shut down the Romanians on defence from the second quarter onwards and cruised to an 89-59 victory.
In the other Tuesday Group I clash, BK Ventspils play host to Joensuun Kataja in Latvia in a game that will be broadcast LIVE on FIBA Europe at 18:00 CET.
|Ludovic Vaty and BCM Gravelines to Szolnoki with high morale |
BCM Gravelines Dunkerque vs. Szolnoki Olaj
BCM bounced back from the disappointment of an early exit in the French Cup one week ago in the best possible way, clinching an 85-83 win over Cholet on the road at the weekend.
They had to dig deep and come back from 10 points behind an excellent display by Ludovic Vaty, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, and are expecting to visit of Szolnoki with their morale sky-high.
Following the weekend results in the French league, BCM are now solitary leaders of the French LNB for the first time this season, and have the extra motivation of avenging the defeat they had suffered in the reverse fixture in Hungary, in the first week of Last 16 action.
Szolnoki cancelled a seven-point BCM lead in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime and then win the encounter, 75-71.
The Hungarian side slumped to a painful 96-83 home defeat to Red Star Belgrade in the Adriatic league at the weekend, following a calamitous second half in which the Serbian powerhouse outscored them 50-34.
Hapoel Holon vs. Paris Levallois
When the two sides met in France four weeks ago, Paris cruised to a comfortable 83-66 victory over Holon, despite a 26-point, 14-rebound performance by Lawrence Hill for the Israeli side.
However, it is highly unlikely the Tuesday encounter will be another walk in the park for the Parisians, and not only because of the change of scenery.
The main reason is that, unlike in the reverse fixture, Holon will be able this time to count on the services of Franklin Hassell, who missed out the Paris game.
The American center was immense for his team on Sunday, collecting a monstrous double-double of 24 points and 17 rebounds to propel Holon past Hapoel Eliat, 74-63, in Israeli league action.
Paris also clinched an important win at the weekend, 73-71, at Poitiers in the French LNB, behind a double-double by their own star center, Sean May, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Norrköping Dolphins vs. Krasnye Krylia
|Krasnye Krylia's Aaron Miles currently leads the EuroChallenge and VTB League in assists|
The Russian side can punch their ticket to the quarter-final play-offs with a win in Sweden on Tuesday, and this key encounter could hardly come at a better time for them.
While Krasnye Krylia are enjoying an excellent run of form in all competitions, the Dolphins slumped to another defeat at the weekend.
Despite playing at home, Norrköping lacked focus and committed 20 turnovers to effectively allow visitors Uppsala to escape with a 78-73 victory in Swedish Basketligan action.
Their failure to take care of the ball was also key in the 81-76 loss to Khimik at home in their last outing at the EuroChallenge, where they had 19 turnovers to the Ukrainian side's 10.
The only good news for the Dolphins came from the encouragingly solid performances of point guard Edgars Jeromanovs and their star frontcourt duo, Joakim Kjellbom and Christian Maraker.
All three of them will need to be in top form on Tuesday night, to limit the action of Krasnye Krylia playmaker Aaron Miles, who leads both the EuroChallenge and the VTB League in assists, and power forward Andre Smith, who wreaked havoc in the Swedish paint in the reverse fixture, leading the Samara outfit to a comfortable 93-75 victory with his 28-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Khimik Yuzhne vs. Tofas SC Bursa
The two opponents combined for 183 points in the reverse fixture four weeks ago in Turkey, in one of the most high-scoring games in the EuroChallenge this season.
Tofas prevailed 93-90 that night, but a lot has changed for both sides since then.
Steven Burrt, who had led the Turkish side with 20 points in that game, is no longer on the team, and Tofas head coach Ahmet Caki has been trying to establish a different, more team-oriented style of play since his departure.
Khimik meanwhile have had a change of style for different reasons, as coach Zvezdan Mitrovic replaced Zoran Martic at the helm.
Mitrovic's team had to work extra hard to bend the resistance of Cherkasy in the domestic Superleague at the weekend, but edged out their visitors 93-87 in overtime and climbed to fifth place in the standings with a 16-12 record.
Another reason why the Tuesday clash might be completely different to that of the first week of the Last 16 is that the two sides played completely out of character in the reverse fixture.
They both relied much more heavily than usual on long-range shooting, whilst, contrary to every logic, Khimik out-rebounded Tofas 32 to 27, when the Turkish side averages almost 4.5 rebounds more than the Ukrainians throughout the EuroChallenge season.
|Dru Joyce has been a major factor in why EWE Baskets are the most productive offensive team in the Last 16|
Tsmoki Minsk vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg
At the weekend, Minsk finally registered their first win in the VTB League this season, and did so in style, with a 93-71 success against Neptunas at home.
The win came in no small part thanks to the contribution of new recruit Tierre Brown, who is expected to make his EuroChallenge debut on Wednesday.
The point guard went 11-for-15 from the field and led all scorers with 23 points while he also added four rebounds and one assist.
Oldenburg on the other hand succumbed to a 94-88 defeat at BEKO Bundesliga leaders Brose Baskets Bamberg on Sunday, despite entering the final frame on top.
Dru Joyce led all scorers with 23 points while Chris Kramer had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Recent form can certainly be a factor, but Oldenburg have been rock solid in the EuroChallenge and can secure their passage to the quarter-finals with a win in Belarus.
In order to hand Oldenburg their first defeat in the competition this season and spoil their plans for an early booking, they will have to come up with an excellent performance on the defensive end.
The Germans are the most productive side in the EuroChallenge, averaging 86.2 points per-encounter, and part of it has to do with their ability to pass the ball in order to find the open man, as they dish out 19.7 assists per game.
The other Week 4 fixture in this Group already took place last week, with Telekom Baskets Bonn making the most of their home-court advantage to defeat Okapi Aalstar 85-72 and improve to 2-2 in the standings.