|11 December 2012|
On the final day of Group F action, Lami-Véd Körmend (2-3) seek to go where no team has gone before in an effort to end their voyage through the Regular Season with the highest possible reward.
The Hungarians host EWE Baskets Oldenburg (5-0) on Tuesday and if they succeed in inflicting a first loss on the undefeated group leaders, they will accompany them to the Last 16 of the competition.
If Körmend fail in their Tuesday quest, they will have to hope for a favourable result in the other game in the group, where Szolnoki Olaj (2-3) host BC Timisoara (1-4) on the other side of Hungary at the same time.
An Oldenburg win followed by a Szolnoki victory by any margin or a Timisoara success by over 23 points will knock Körmend out of the race for a place in the next phase.
Oldenburg prevailed 95-64 in the reverse fixture in Germany on 21 November, with Rickey Paulding and Robin Smeulders scoring 15 points each.
SEASON SO FAR
Whether it's down to coach Machowski's practice of continuously rotating his players or because of their excellent passing game (19.8 assists per game, second only to Krasnye Krylia in the competition), Oldenburg are a well-oiled scoring machine in Europe.
The Germans score an average of 85.4 points per EuroChallenge game, compared to 72.8 in the BEKO Bundesliga, with seven of their players averaging more than eight points per contest.
In accordance with their playing style, a different player can step up on any given night to pave the way on offence, but Ricky Paulding is so far the team's top threat with 13.6 points on average while Joyce leads the team in assists with 5.6 per-night.
Körmend are not necessarily fazed by Oldenburg's free-scoring ethos, as they are a more than decent team on offence themselves.
The Hungarians score an average of 82.4 points per-game and shoot an excellent 59.5% from two-point range on average and if they stay close to these figures they can challenge Oldenburg in their own game.
For this to happen however, coach Tamas Hencsey will need to get top performances by his frontcourt duo, on which the team rely heavily.
Center Matthew Shaw is the second-leading scorer in the EuroChallenge with 22 points-per-contest, behind Apollon's Brandon Brown who has 22.6 ppg.
He works in harmony with power forward Zvonko Buljan, who apart from coming a very close fourth on the competition's top scorers' table with 21 points-per-game, is leading the team in rebounds with 7.6 boards per-encounter.
In an ideal scenario for Körmend, either one of their two big guys would lead Hencsey's troops with an inspired performance similar to the one that earned Shaw Week 4 MVP honours (33 points, seven rebounds, two assists against Timisoara).
The American center however scored 16 points when his team faced Oldenburg in Germany, his lowest mark in the competition, while Buljan reached his season average, 21, but was only 8-for-19 from the floor
|Adam Chubb has been stepping it up for a EWE Baskets team already laden with game-winning players|
Oldenburg secured their passage to the Last 16 already on the fourth day of Regular Season action and could have taken it easy last week, when they were playing Szolnoki on the road.
But the Germans maintained the intensity of their game at the same level and reached their fifth victory in as many games in the competition, and a quite imposing victory at that.
11 Oldenburg players took to the floor that night, five of them scored in double digits and the German side won 85-67, with Dru Joyce leading their balanced offence with 15 points.
They followed up with a 63-61 win over Frankfurt Skyliners in the German BEKO Bundesliga on Saturday, a win that lifted them to fourth place in their domestic league's standings.
Adam Chubb was the player to step up in that encounter, with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Interestingly, Chubb is the only player to have started in all five Oldenburg games in the EuroChallenge so far.
Körmend on the other hand had a weekend to forget, that ruined the fine impression they had left midweek.
They visited Hungarian League leaders Atomeromu on Saturday and slumped to a 93-63 loss, with the only positive news of the day coming from Buljan's contribution of 22 points and five rebounds.
It was the second big consecutive big performance on the road by the Croatian forward, who had led Körmend to the vital 94-83 success over Szolnoki just four days days previously, with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.