|14 November 2013|
|Nikolas Raivio and Fortress Jaszberenyi failed to get their offence going on Tuesday night, managing just 41 points|
The EuroChallenge Regular Season is still only two weeks old, but already there are just as many plot lines and twists and turns as those we normally come across towards the business end of the season.
Eight teams have improved to 2-0 - Triumph Lyubertsy and Gaz Metan Medias both in Group D - but it is still too early for any of the 32 participants to rehearse either their cry of success or that of despair.
There are, however, some main points we can take out of Week 2 of EuroChallenge action that might come in handy during the remainder of the season.
Stat Of The Week:
Fortress Jaszberenyi scored just 41 points on their home court after committing 27 turnovers and shooting 36% from the floor in Tuesday's Group F loss Krka Novo Mesto.
It is not exactly easy to put a put a positive spin on this offensive display, but the Hungarian side might take some heart from the fact that this was not the lowest ever scoring output in the EuroChallenge.
On 24 November 2009, Amsterdam lost 66-41 at Scavolini Pesaro and, considering the 25-point margin, their performance is probably classified as worse than that of the Hungarian side last Tuesday.
Interestingly, if we continue to dust off the history books we will see than in the four years that elapsed between these two results, the team that came the closest to such a poor offensive showing was Port of Antwerp Giants, and Krka was once again the culprit of a disastrous night for an unsuspecting opponent.
On 1st February 2011, the Slovenians defeated the Belgian side 62-46 at home.
Less than three months later, they lifted the EuroChallenge trophy, and did so in Belgium.
Omens and coincidences aficionados will be further delighted to know that Krka finished that season as the best defensive team in the competition and, just like this year, coach Aleksandar Dzikic was at the helm, during his first spell at the club.
Keep An Eye On:
|David Vojvoda of Szolnoki Olaj is a player to keep an eye on|
Hungarian champions Szolnoki Olaj were not exactly taking a gamble last summer, when they signed home-grown swingman David Vojvoda to replace Montenegrin international Sead Šehović.
Vojvoda was a known quantity as he had averaged 18.3 points-per-game on 53.6% shooting from the floor during his last league season with Atomerömü SE and then he had a break-out summer with the national team, leading Hungary in scoring (15.3 points-per-game) and steals in their EuroBasket 2015 1st Qualification Round campaign.
Still, the 23-year-old Hungarian has adapted admirably to his new surroundings and the higher level of competition and on Tuesday he posted 22 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals (efficiency index rating of 22) to lead Szolnoki to an 85-72 comeback win at BC Mures and the top spot in EuroChallenge Regular Season Group H.
Vojvoda is also having a very solid start to the season in the ABA Adriatic League, averaging 11 points, three rebounds and 1.2 assists-per-encounter after the first seven games.
Blast From The Past:
Chinemelu Elonu is not flashy but he is the sort of solid big man around whom every coach would like to anchor his defence.
The Nigerian center could not prevent the 74-70 loss of Tofas Bursa at Ural Ekaterinburg on Tuesday, but he did make every possible effort, finishing with a career-high 23 points (on 10-for-12 from the floor) and 15 rebounds as the Top Statistical Performer in Week 2.
Elonu ranked in the top-10 in rebounds and blocks during both of his previous seasons in the EuroChallenge, first with Pau Lacq Orthez and last year with his current club, Tofas, but never quite had a stand-out performance like that.
Part of the reason has always been that as someone who is primarily valued for his defensive qualities, Elonu rarely stays on the floor long enough to put up huge numbers.
He averaged four fouls-per-game last season, more than any other player, and indeed he also fouled out on Tuesday, but at least this time around only after playing sufficient time (30 minutes) to post the career-high stat line.
The Tofas center however is still only 26 and has the margin to improve on this pending assignment, so that we can see him more often - both on the floor and on the top performers' list.
Hitting The Headlines:
Bakken Bears became the first team to hit the century mark in this edition of the EuroChallenge, with their 101-90 victory over Finnish neighbours Kataja Basket.
The Danish side clinched their second victory in as many games in Group G in front of their home crowd, which saw the talented 22-year-old shooting guard Thomas Laerke lead the charge, with 20 points and four assists.
The Bears have started their EuroChallenge campaign on better form than the FIBA Europe Cup Men in 2005, in which they finished top of their qualifying group with a 4-2 record and advanced to the Conference play-offs.
It is still early days in the competition, but this perfect start could provide the makings of the most successful European season in history by a Danish club.
Quote Of The Week:
|Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich|
"We were kind of with our backs to the wall after we lost against Gaziantep on the opening day. We have a new team compared to the one that won the EuroChallenge last season. We are in the process of building the team," said Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich, after his team clinched an 89-74 victory at CSM Oradea in Group B.
This was the second time in the space of three days that the Russian tactician mentioned how much the reigning champions were hurt from the loss to Gaziantep in the premiere, the first coming after a seemingly unrelated win over Neptunas in the VTB League action on Saturday.
The moral of these words is that Krasnye Krylia do not like at all the fact their EuroChallenge winning streak was snapped in such unceremonious fashion.
They might now be conscious that perhaps they are no longer the dominant force of last season, but their unequivocal message is that anyone out there who wants the trophy will have to prey it off the hands of the reigning champions.
It remains to be seen just how firm of a grip Bazarevich and his men have.