|22 October 2013|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Chris Christoffersen and the Bakken Bears are still undefeated in the Danish Basketligaen|
The upcoming couple of weeks is a quite peculiar period in the season of Bakken Bears Aarhus, the Danish club that returns to the EuroChallenge this year for the first time since 2009.
The reigning Danish Canal Digital Ligaen (Basketligaen) champions will not return to league action before 31st October, when they play host to Aalborg Vikings, in the first of three encounters that await them within the space of six days.
They are then playing away at SISU in Basketligaen Day 8 action before travelling to the Netherlands to take on ZZ Leiden in their EuroChallenge Group G opener.
Bakken's only competitive game until that hectic six-day stretch arrives will be a domestic cup fixture against Næstved, but the Bears have well earned this short idle break with their performances so far.
At the weekend, Bakken extended their unbeaten run by registering their sixth consecutive victory in this season's Basketligaen to remain at the top of the standings as the solitary leaders of the domestic championship.
Their latest success, 85-80 on the road against Falcon, was their most hard-fought win so far this season.
The Bears started off well and led their hosts by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but Falcon quickly restored the balance and jumped ahead 44-40 at half-time.
Veteran Danish international Nicolai Iversen scored seven of his 10 points in the clutch to help the hosts reduce to just one point, 76-75, and after Bakken got a stop on defence, Brandon Penn scored five points in quick succession to secure they would escape with the victory and maintain their perfect record intact.
Penn finished with a team-high 23 points on 4-for-7 shooting from three-point range and added four rebounds.
The 23-year-old American small forward, who was added to the Bears roster in the summer, leads the team in scoring in the league with 20.8 points-per-game.
Fellow American Kenny Barker averages 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists-per-night, Iversen, who turns 34 in January, contributes 13.3 points, 5.5. rebounds and four assists-per-game, while big man Chris Christoffersen is Bakken's top rebounder, averaging 7.7 boards-per-game to go with his 9.7 points.
In the game at Falcon coach Ville Tuominen welcomed back to the team another important offensive option in young Danish international Thomas Laerke, who had missed the start of the season due to an ankle injury.
Laerke stayed on the floor for 18 minuted and drilled all three of his triple attempts, finishing with nine points and three rebounds.
Bakken competed in the EuroChallenge in 2008 and 2009 and on both occasions they fell in qualifying and failed to reach the regular season.
In their maiden appearance in this stage and in addition to ZZ Leiden, they will also do battle with the Finns of Kataja and French side Cholet in Group G.
|Juho Nenonen recorded a double-double in Kataja's win over KTP|
KATAJA WIN DERBY WITH KTP
Kataja were precisely the team that prevailed in a direct clash between two EuroChallenge sides on Monday night, as they clinched an 88-74 victory over Team TEHO Sport Kotka (KTP) at home, in Finnish Korisliiga action.
KTP put in an excellent defensive display in the second quarter, held their hosts to just 13 points in the period and jumped to a 41-39 lead at the half-time interval.
Spurred on by the home fans however, Kataja returned after the break determined to seize control of the encounter and outscored their guests 28-14 in the third to effectively put the result beyond doubt.
Kataja's veteran Finnish international Teemu Rannikko dished out a season-high 13 assists and scored 11 points to collect a remarkable double-double.
Sami Lehtoranta, Mike Morrison and Juho Nenonen led Kataja in scoring with 16 points each, the latter also grabbing 10 rebounds to also complete a double-double performance.
For KTP, Sharaud Curry finished with 16 points and five rebounds, Michael Pounds had 14 points and Jukka Matinen chipped in with 13 points in losing efforts.
Kataja have now improved to 4-3 in the Korisliiga standings but KTP are still one place above them on the table as they stand at 4-2.