|23 January 2014|
The second week of action in the Last 16 provided all the drama that was perhaps lacking from the opening week and its hard-fought battles left only three teams still standing undefeated.
While only one encounter went into overtime (Tsmoki Minsk vs. Ural Ekaterinburg), six of the eight clashes this week were determined by a single-digit margin and half the games (four of eight) ended in victory for the visiting side.
We take a look back at some noteworthy stories of Week 2 in the EuroChallenge Last 16.
|Augustas Peciukevicius shone bright on Tuesday, leading Tartu Rock to their second victory in Last 16 action |
Keep An Eye On:
Tartu Rock have lost only two games so far in this EuroChallenge season and, perhaps not by coincidence, they were the two first games of their campaign, in which Augustas Peciukevicius did not play any part (although he did make a testimonial appearance of one minute in the second one). On Tuesday, Peciukevicius collected a game-high 24 points to propel his team to their sixth win in a row, an 82-74 success over Port of Antwerp Giants. Although he fell short by one point of his personal season-best, this performance was his most well-rounded display in the EuroChallenge so far. The young Lithuanian point guard also grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists, blocked two opponents' shots and drew five fouls to register an efficiency index rating of 29, just one grade shy of the top-three this week.
Blast From The Past:
Sandis Valters has been delivering one solid performance after the other for Ventspils this season but on Tuesday his team needed an extra offensive boost to get off the mark in the Last 16, and the 35-year-old veteran duly obliged. Valters drilled 6-of-10 three-pointers and collected 21 points, a personal EuroChallenge-high since joining Ventspils in the summer of 2012, and the Latvian side downed JDA Dijon 69-59 at home. Having proved that accuracy does not necessarily drop as your eyes and hands grow older, the sharp-shooting guard also added two rebounds, one assist and one steal to register an efficiency index rating of 19 on the night.
Although two years younger than Valters, Michal Ignerski is not exactly a rising young talent any more but looked every bit as fresh in his EuroChallenge debut on Tuesday. The Polish international, who had played for Nizhny Novgorod in the 2011/12 edition of the EuroChallenge, made sure to return to the competition with a bang as he dropped in a team-high 25 points and corralled eight rebounds to lead Krasnye Krylia to a vital 80-77 away win at Gaz Metan Medias.
|Krka Head Coach Aleksandar Dzikic could not satisfied with his team's performance in Szolnok|
Stat Of The Week:
"Basketball is a simple game but the players always make it too complicated," Krka Novo Mesto head coach Aleksandar Dzikic said after his team's loss at Szolnoki Olaj, in which somehow the visitors managed to score only 48 points on 27% shooting from the floor. Although the Serbian coach's indignation at these figures is justifiable, he and his players might take some heart from the fact that this was not the worst ever offensive performance in the Last 16 stage of the EuroChallenge. If we dust off the history books and rewind all the way back to the 2006 edition, when the second phase of the competition switched to the 16 teams divided in four groups format, there have been two worst displays. In actual fact, on both occasions a Krka side coached by Dzikic were the instigators and the perpetrators of the negative records, in two carbon-copy clashes. On 1st March 2011, the Slovenian team shut down Port of Antwerp Giants on the road to win 64-45, as the Belgians only shot 25.9% from the floor. In the reverse fixture that same year, Krka had kept Antwerp to 46 points, scoring 62 of their own at home.
Hitting The Headlines:
Ural Ekaterinburg's EuroChallenge season-high 38 defensive rebounds on Tuesday is a firm candidate for the 'Stat Of The Week' category, but not mentioning some other facets of their 97-96 overtime win at Tsmoki Minsk would not do justice to the Russian team's success. Ekaterinburg not only travelled to the top-rebounding team in the entire competition and closed down their paint to out-rebound them 49-36, but showed tremendous character in overturning a 16-point deficit, force overtime and eventually escape with victory from Belarus.
Ekaterinburg do not have the deepest of rotations, as three players average at least 33 minutes per game but, perhaps taking full advantage of the relatively spread-out calendar in the Russian Superleague which enables them to get enough rest, they enter every EuroChallenge game as if it was a final.
Quote Of The Week:
"We were supposed to win this game, and we lost because of our mistakes and not because of their quality. That's my opinion. And now we have to win the game in Turkey, we have to take revenge," a defiant Milovan Rakovic said after his team, Triumph Lyubertsy, fell 78-74 to Royal Hali Gaziantep at home in Group K action.