Group E Preview

02.11.2011

EUROCHALLENGE

4. Blake Schilb (Elan Chalon)
28-year-old American shooting guard/small forward Blake Schilb is Elan Chalon's main offensive weapon

CSU Mobitelco are finding success in Romania's top flight so far this season.

With four wins in their opening five games, club supremo Mircea Cristescu hopes the team is building momentum for the EuroChallenge.

"We've been on an upward trend since the first official game," Cristescu said.

"We hope to reach top form by the beginning of the EuroChallenge campaign."

Led by coach Marcel Tenter, the team based in Cluj-Napoca will play in Group E against Elan Chalon, Antwerp Giants and BC Enisey.

Kyndall Dykes, a 24-year-old American guard/forward with the CSU Mobitelco, said: "The EuroChallenge, I've talked to a lot of friends who have played in the competition and they told me it would be difficult.

"There are very long and tiring journeys, but if we are mentally strong, we can play well.

"We do not yet know the teams, their players, but I'm sure all will play well.

"We'll do our scouting and will be hoping to do the same, to do well."

CSU have come into the season as the defending champions of Romania after a 4-2 Finals triumph over Ploiesti.

Enisey are one of the Russian teams taking part in the EuroChallenge and they've already been in some tough games in both the VTB United League, and the PBL.

They also had a dream comeback to make it into the EuroChallenge.

After losing the first leg of their Qualifying Round tie at Spartak Primorye by 17 points, they returned home and won the second leg by 23.

At the weekend in the VTB United League, Enisey met a Lietuvos Rytas side led by boss Aleksandar Dzikic, the coach of 2011 EuroChallenge winners KRKA Novo Mesto.

The Vilnius club was favored and beat Enisey, 82-75, but Dzikic was impressed by the Russian outfit.

"This team is no joke," he said.

"It's a good team which picked up some experienced players."

Among them are Jasmin Hukic, the veteran forward from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel national team point guard Afik Nissim, Serbia point guard Marko Marinovic and American center Lonny Baxter.

"I think that with each game, we will gain shape and improve the quality of the game," said Stevan Karadzic, the coach of Enisey, after the defeat to Lietuvos Rytas.

Elan Chalon will not be pushovers.

Already in France's LNB, Gregor Beugnot's team has won close games.

They edged Gravelines Dunkerque, 77-73, in their opener and over the weekend prevailed, 77-75, at Dijon.

In Europe, Chalon will be looking to get rid of their Eurocup Qualifying Round hangover.

14. Marko Marinovic (BC Enisey)
Experienced Serbian guard Marko Marinovic is the man who pushed BC Enisey to secure a spot in the EuroChallenge against all odds

Taking on Cedevita and on top by 22 points in the fourth quarter of the first leg, Chalon only ended up winning 78-73.

In the second leg, they fell 84-69 in Croatia and missed out on the Eurocup.

Antwerp, meanwhile, have played in the EuroChallenge the last two seasons and will be liking their chances of doing well.

However, the club can't seem to stay away from the injury bug.

They had their share of fitness issues in 2010-11 and already, they have lost guard Ralph Biggs for between two and four weeks with a sprained left knee.

 

CURRENT FORM

  • CSU Mobitel have gotten off to a good start in Romania's top flight with four wins in their opening five games. In their last clash with Otopeni, the team trailed going into the fourth quarter but won 84-82.
  • Enisey are 1-3 in the VTB United League and 0-1 in Russia, but defeats have come against very good teams and they also have the great comeback in the Qualifying Round for the EuroChallenge to savor.
  • Elan Chalon may have suffered a costly meltdown against Cedevita, but the club is off to a 3-1 start in France's LNB.
  • Antwerp Giants have claimed three wins in their first five games in Belgium.

KEY PLAYERS

  • Chalon's Blake Schilb should be one of the most explosive scorers in the EuroChallenge.
  • Antwerp have Salah Mejri, the 2.16m center from Tunisia. The 25-year-old was named the MVP of Afrobasket 2011 after leading his side to the gold medal and into the 2012 Olympics.
  • The 29-year-old Serbian center Zoran Krstanovic of CSU Mobitel is proving to be a handful for opponents in Romania. He had 23 points and nine boards in the narrow triumph over Otopeni.
  • Marinovic, a veteran playmaker for Enisey, can carry a team with his scoring. He had an outstanding second leg against Spartak Primorye, pouring in 29 points - 15 in the decisive fourth quarter.

DID YOU KNOW?

Chalon won the club's first ever trophy in May, beating Limoges in the Coupe de France.


HISTORY LANE

  • Champions of Romania in 1992, '93, '96 and last season, CSU Mobitel's best continental campaign in recent times came in the 2006-07 Europe Cup Challenge when they finished first in their group with four wins in six games but then lost to Cypriots Apollon in the Quarter-finals. They attempted to reach the 2008 EuroCup but lost twice to PAOK in the elimination round. The next year, CSU came up short of making the EuroChallenge after falling twice to EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the Qualifying Round.
  • Antwerp have won their share of games in the EuroChallenge, going 6-8 in 2009-10 when they reached the Quarter-Finals but fell in two games to Scavolini Pesaro. The following season, they went 5-9. Their participation in continental competitions goes back to the 1986-87 campaign when they played in the European Cup of Cup Winners.
  • Enisey were in the 2009-10 EuroChallenge and won in five of their 12 games. They reached the Last 16 but left the competition after going 2-4. In 2010-11, Enisey played in the EuroChallenge Qualifying Round and narrowly missed out on taking part in the Regular Season after a 177-174 defeat on aggregate to fellow Russians BC NN.
  • Elan Chalon were in the Saporta Cup in 2000 and '01 and the Korac Cup the following year. They also have experience in the EuroChallenge, winning seven of their 12 games in the 2009-10 campaign. They finished 3-3 in the Last 16 but ended up third in their group behind Apoel Nicosia (also 3-3) on a tie-break and played no further part in the competition.

 


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