|06 November 2013|
|Cholet Basket struggled in their opening EuroChallenge encounter, falling to Kataja Basket on the road|
Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia and Cholet Basket commenced their EuroChallenge campaigns in contrasting ways on Tuesday, but in the wake of their opening games they have both turned their attention to the guard positions.
The Italian side realised that perhaps they have more depth in the backcourt than they initially thought, while the French club decided they need more of it, and they took an immediate step to bolster their backline.
Cholet lost 76-70 on the road at Kataja Basket in the Group G opener on Tuesday night and on Wednesday they announced they have decided to replace 23-year-old Tyler Brown with veteran Eric Chatfield.
Brown played for just four minutes in the EuroChallenge premiere in Finland and previously only averaged a discreet 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in the first five games of the French Pro A League.
"Tyler showed a lot of goodwill, but that was not enough," said Cholet general manager Thierry Chevrier.
"With Eric Chatfield, we do not jump into the unknown, he has already shown a lot of things in the Pro A.
"The only question mark is his physical condition, since he played his last competitive game in May."
The 33-year-old Chatfield first played in Europe in 2004, when he joined Greek club Ionikos.
The American guard then had brief spells in the CBA League in the US and in Lebanon, before returning to Europe to suit up for the Frankfurt Skyliners in Germany and Darussafaka Istanbul in Turkey.
France however is linked to some stellar years in his career, as after playing for JDA Dijon in 2009 and Roanne the following year, he signed with Paris Levallois in February 2011 and finished that season as the top scorer in the Pro A, with 19.6 points-per-game.
Chatfield's paperwork should be in order for the guard to make his debut in Cholet's Saturday Pro A game at Orleans, but center Justin Burrell is doubtful for that clash as he picked up a knock in Tuesday's game at Kataja and the extent of his injury is yet to be determined.
MUSSINI, FRASSINETI HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
|Federico Mussini was impressive for Reggio Emilia in his debut EuroChallenge appearance, stepping in for the injured Andrea Cinciarini |
Reggio Emilia were faced with a sudden crisis just hours before their EuroChallenge opener against Okapi Aalstar, as starting point guard Andrea Cinciarini was ruled out of the game with a muscle strain.
But once they had picked up an ultimately comfortable 80-63 win in the Group E premiere, any concern had been transformed to pleasant surprise with the debut on the big stage of 17-year-old Federico Mussini.
The young Italian prospect was included in the squad for Tuesday's clash literally at the last minute, to replace the senior Italian international Cinciarini.
Mussini came on the court late in the first quarter and played a total of 16 minutes, contributing five points, two rebounds and one steal to his team's success.
The aspect of his performance that pleased the fans and his team-mates the most however, was his aggressive defence on consecrated scorers like Okapi's sharp-shooter Derek Raivio.
"Mussini played a great game for a debut at this level," a very pleased Massimiliano Menetti, Reggio Emilia's head coach, said afterwards.
The young point guard first delivered his credentials on the European stage in the summer of 2012, when he averaged 14.6 points and 3.8 rebounds-per-game to help Italy reach the semi-finals of the U16 European Championship in Vilnius and was voted on the All-Tournament Team.
Were it not for Mussini, all eyes in Reggio Emilia's EuroChallenge debut would have been on another guard, Matteo Frassineti.
Menetti took the unusual step in the summer to sign the 26-year-old, who had only played in Italy's second division (Lega Due) previously, and felt vindicated on Tuesday as Frassineti contributed nine points, one rebound and one assist.
"Frassineti was very good, I told you he had what it takes," the coach said of the player that he knew from his previous stint at the club, when Reggio Emilia earned promotion to the top flight from Lega Due.
After the win over Okapi, Menetti also had words of praise for veteran Greg Brunner, who led all scorers with 22 points, as well as forward James White.
"Brunner was on everyone's case for the two days before the game, he transmitted to the team his great winning mentality," the Reggio Emilia coach said.
White meanwhile was doubtful until late as he had been suffering from a stomach virus, but came up with 10 points and three steals on Tuesday.
"He had to go and vomit during warm-up but he still wanted to play and help the team," Menetti revealed.