|15 April 2013|
|Rickey Paulding was the only EWE Baskets player to make double figures on the weekend but his team was still able to do enough to come up with the win|
This was a weekend of consolidation on the domestic front for BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Pinar Karsiyaka, three of the teams that are bound for the EuroChallenge Final Four.
The EuroChallenge title contenders emerged victorious from battles in their respective national leagues and, regardless of what happens in the remaining games of Regular Season action, they now have a solid idea of what their placement at the start of their domestic play-offs will be.
Less than two weeks before boarding the plane to Izmir for the Final Four, BCM clinched a win that keeps them at the top of the French Pro A standings and a guaranteed top-three finish in the Regular Season, at the very least.
BCM's home encounter against bottom-of-the-table Boulazac was much more stressful than expected though, as the French league leaders trailed their opponents for long stretches of the game, until a strong finish propelled them to a 63-56 victory.
In such a low-scoring affair, it was only natural that Christian Monschau's side secured the win thanks to a great defensive effort in the fourth quarter, when they gave up just eight points to their guests.
Juan Edwards led all BCM scorers with 15 points on seven-for-10 shooting from the floor and added seven boards, point guard Dwight Buycks chipped in with 14 points, while power forward Ludovic Vaty collected a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Gravelines side now stand at 19-8; reigning Pro A champions Elan Chalon are at 18-9; while Strasbourg have suffered two consecutive defeats and dropped to 17-10.
Oldenburg meanwhile were already assured of a top-three finish following their midweek triumph over Bayern Munich, but took a giant step on Sunday towards securing second place in the Regular Season of the German BEKO Bundesliga.
Sebastian Machowski's team extended their domestic winning streak to six games with a 78-72 success on the road over Eisbären Bremerhaven and improved to 23-8 on the table.
They now need just one more win in their remaining three games, all of which are scheduled to take place ahead of the EuroChallenge Final Four, to seal second spot ahead of ratiopharm Ulm, who stand at 21-10.
Oldenburg showed some signs of fatigue at Bremerhaven but their deep rotation, a key ingredient to their success this season, allowed them to outlast their hosts and hold on to an early five-point lead until the final buzzer, with small fluctuations.
Rickey Paulding was the only one of Machowski's players to score in double digits this time, as he finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor.
An indicative stat line is that the guests out-rebounded Bremerhaven 36-32 as all but one of the 11 players that Machowski used in the game picked up at least one board.
Karsiyaka meanwhile know after this weekend that, in the worst case scenario, they will finish fifth in the Turkish BEKO Ligi Regular Season.
The EuroChallenge Final Four hosts claimed a hard-fought 80-75 victory away to Aliaga Petkim on Sunday and improved to 20-6 in the standings, while sixth-placed Besiktas stand at 14-10 and are facing Anadolu Efes on Monday.
Karsiyaka shooting guard Jon Diebler went four-of-eight from three-point range and led all scorers with 18 points, adding four rebounds and three assists, in only his fourth game since returning from injury in late March.
Power forward William Thomas and point guard Robert Dixon were not far behind, with 16 and 15 points respectively, but another significant contribution came from Turkish playmaker Soner Sentürk, who dished out a game-high eight assists to go with his five points and four rebounds.
"We are happy for this win, but not content with fifth place," Karsiyaka head coach Ufuk Sarica said after the game.
"Our aim is to win all four remaining games and stay in the race for a top-four finish until the end."