|The Group E game will be streamed LIVE and for free on FIBA Europe TV - Tuesday at 18:00 CET |
Tuesday is the sort of day that Mircea Cristescu has been looking forward to for weeks.
The general manager of CSU Mobitelco is eager to see how his team is going to measure up in the EuroChallenge.
It's opening night, and CSU Mobitelco will be at home in Cluj-Napoca against Elan Chalon of France, an outfit that has won plenty of games on the continent before.
Chalon went 7-5 in the 2009-10 EuroChallenge, while their most famous season in Europe came a decade ago when they reached the Saporta Cup Final.
And there is a link to that team, too, because France international guard Steed Tchicamboud, a player on France's squad at EuroBasket 2011, was on the books of Chalon in 2001, just as he is now.
The last time CSU Mobitelco tried to reach the EuroChallenge was the 2008-09 campaign but they were hammered in the Qualifying Round 1 by EWE Baskets.
"If we have to win every (Romanian) championship game to maintain our reputation as a champion," Cristescu said, "instead here (in Europe), we meet different teams playing basketball and it will be very interesting to see how we cope and how others are able to play against us.
"What we want is to at least win our home games."
Chalon, who won last season's Coupe de France, had an excellent opportunity to play in this season's Eurocup.
They had a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter of the first leg of their Qualifying Round tie against Cedevita on September 27, but won by just five. Cedevita then defeated them by 15 in Croatia, a result that left them in the EuroChallenge.
SEASON SO FAR
• CSU Mobitelco have won three straight games in Romania's top flight and five of six overall. Their latest triumph was an 84-59 demolition of Giurgiu.
• Chalon have bounced back from their European disappointment with a strong showing in France where they have won four of five games and are in second place. The latest victory came at the weekend against Strasbourg, 80-70.
THE HOT HAND
• Big man Zoran Krstanovic has been on a tear of late for the Romanian team, pouring in 21, 23 and 16 points in victories over Oradea, Otopeni and Giurgiu, respectively.
• Scoring machine Blake Schilb is averaging 16.7 points per game for Chalon while shooting 46% (eight of 17) from long range.
THE X FACTOR
• Ilian Evtimov had five of Chalon's 11 shots from behind the arc against Strasbourg and finished with a game-high 19 points. His previous high was 10 in a victory over Orleans.
• Romania international Mihai Silvasan is a threat from long range for CSU Mobitelco. He has buried a couple of three-balls for the club in their last two wins. In their only defeat against CSM Bucuresti (69-67), he played 29 minutes and scored just three points.
Chalon's Malcolm Delaney against Kyndall Dykes of CSU Mobitelco in a battle of the shooting guards.