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Belgium: Potter, Dexia Look To Weave More Magic

18 February 2006
By Ben Collins, PA Sport

Dexia Mons-Hainaut have played the role of the underdog throughout this year's FIBA EuroCup and now aim to make BC Khimki their next scalp.

Few expected the Belgians to do much in this year's competition having failed to make it beyond the qualifying round in the last two seasons.

But Dexia have been this year's surprise package, topping a Round I group that contained Pallacanestro Cantu and SLUC Nancy before sending BC Zadar crashing out as they emerged from Round II to make it into the last eight.

They open their quarter-final play-off in Russia on Tuesday hoping heavyweights Khimki make the same mistake as Dexia's earlier opponents.

"Lokomotiv Rostov took us for granted at our house (in Round II) and so did Zadar, and we beat them both," Dexia forward Jim Potter told PA Sport.

"Other people see us as a little team from Belgium and I think some people underestimated us, but everyone in our team knows we have good players and a good coach, so it's not such a surprise to us."

Potter and center George Evans are Dexia's only veterans of the 2003-04 campaign - in fact, the 32-year-old Potter is now in his ninth season with the club, so he knows just how special this moment is for Dexia.

"It's the first time in the club's history that they've got to the quarter finals of the competition and everyone's very excited," he said.

"They (Khimki) are a great team with a big budget and great players. Me and George Evans have played against Khimki in the last two seasons so we know something about them and about travelling to Russia."

Argentina international Ruben Wolkowisky helped Khimki to third place in last season's FIBA Europe League and has starred with an average of 14.2 points as the Russians have progressed through the current campaign.

But Potter is trying not to think about coming up against the Olympic gold-medalist.

"They have Melvin Booker, Oscar Torres, and Alexander Petrenko ... oh, and some guy from Argentina," he joked.

"It's great to have the chance to test your skills against great players. And if anything, it only makes you more motivated."

European competition certainly seems to bring the best out of Dexia, who have lost their last two Belgian league games.

They have also bolstered their roster in the build-up to the EuroCup resumption by signing 24-year-old Serbo-Montenegrin center Vladimir Tica from Ukraine's Khimik-OPZ Yuzny.

Tica provides Dexia with another option in what has been a balanced attack in the competition.

Kevin Houston (15.6) and Evans (14.2) lead their scoring averages, while Omar Cook (13.5) top-scored with 23 points in the crucial Round II victory over Zadar which clinched Dexia's place in the last eight and earned him EuroCup Player of the Week honours.

Potter, meanwhile, has been an ever-present during their EuroCup campaign, averaging 8.3, and believes he still has plenty to offer.

"Any one of us can come up and score 20 points a game, we've don't have any one star," added Potter, a Belgian championship winner in 2003 during a two-year stint with Charleroi.

"We just give 100% and see where it gets us. My aim is to put in lots of hard work and keep on winning. I just want to enjoy basketball for as long as possible."

He'll certainly be enjoying it if Dexia can grab an unlikely spot in the Final Four.

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