|Dexia Coach Arik Shivek knows his team need a small miracle to qualify to the quarter-finals, and he's promised something special to his players if they perform it|
There are still two Quarter-Final places up for grabs in the EuroChallenge heading into the final week of Last 16 action.
BK Ventspils joined the last eight in the penultimate week with a 104-69 demolition of Norrkoping Dolphins, giving them a 3-2 record in Group K and clinching second place ahead of the Swedes and Sport Lisboa e Benfica (both 1-4).
There remains unfinished business in Group J, and Group L.
In the former, KRKA Novo Mesto (4-1) locked up one last-eight spot with an 86-81 win over Pinar Karsiyaka last week.
The second qualifier is likely to be Karsiyaka (3-2).
That's because Dexia Mons-Hainaut (2-3) need to not only beat the Turkish team on Tuesday in Belgium to leave both sides with 3-3 records, but do so by 24 points to pip them to second place.
Karsiyaka won the first game on February 1, 94-71.
Ain't gonna happen for Dexia?
Unlikely, yes, but not impossible.
Dexia know firsthand what it's like to have a huge advantage going into a game.
In a bid to qualify for last season's Eurocup, they won by 15 in Belgium against Power Electronics Valencia but then lost the second leg by 18 in Spain.
The Spanish team prevailed in the tie by three points on aggregate and then won the competition!
Do Dexia need a miracle to win by 24?
Here's what coach Arik Shivek has told his players.
"When I was a kid," he said, "there was a tie between DKV Badalona and Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi lost by 28 in Badalona but at home in Israel, they won by 29."
The silver-haired Shivek then smiled, looked up to the heavens and said: "So, maybe we need a miracle but I told them (the players) that I'm considering making my hair black if we do it."
Should KRKA Novo Mesto fall at Antwerp Giants and Karsiyaka win, then the Turkish club would claim first place in Group J.
A KRKA victory assures the Slovenian side of first place.
Win Or Bust
The situation in Group L is uncertain.
Lokomotiv Kuban edged BC Telenet Oostende last week, 70-62, to improve to 3-2, but a team many expected to reach the Final Four have yet to clinch a place in the last eight.
|BK Prostejov Coach Peter Balint says the pressure is on Lokomotiv and the Czech side go into the deciding game with nothing to lose|
That's because BK Prostejov won 99-82 at home over BC Zadar to improve to 2-3.
Therefore, the winner of their meeting on Tuesday in Krasnodar will advance.
Prostejov won the first encounter against Lokomotiv 67-66 on February 1, yet the coach of Prostejov, Peter Balint, says his team is the underdogs.
"We have nothing to lose in this match," Balint said.
"The pressure will be mainly on our rivals. If we think of success, we must build on the defense."
Without a doubt, the main focus for Prostejov will be to put the shackles on the Lokomotiv trio of Lionel Chalmers, Mike Wilkinson and Jeremiah Massey.
Oostende, despite losing to Lokomotiv in their last game, only fell by eight which means they are assured of a first-place finish.
The Belgians won the first meeting by nine.
Oostende host BC Zadar on Tuesday in a game with no ramifications.
It's worth keeping an eye on Ventspils because they look like an improved team.
Arturs Berzins poured in 27 points on eight of 11 shooting from the floor last week, while Efejuku Oritseweyinmi had a nice showing for the second game in a row for Ventspils, scoring 26 points and handing out eight assists.
BCM Gravelines had already sewn up a Quarter-Final qualifying spot from Group K before last week but their 91-82 home victory against Benfica locked up first place and kept them unbeaten in the Last 16.
Ventspils would never the less like to beat Gravelines in Latvia on Tuesday to avenge their earlier defeat to the French team.
Norrkoping, meanwhile, host Benfica in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon in Group K.
In Group I, there is nothing but pride to play for when Spartak travel to Maccabi Haifa and Lukoil Academic visit Barak Netanya.
That's because Spartak Saint-Petersburg beat Lukoil Academic Sofia 86-80 last week to wrap up first place.
The two teams had already clinched Quarter-Final spots.