Last 16 Week 5 Preview: Groups I And J

17 February 2014
14. Vilmantas Dilys (Tartu Rock)
Vilmantas Dilys and Tartu Rock will look to maintain their unbeaten run in the Last 16 when they travel to Belgium

The fifth week of action in the EuroChallenge Last 16 presents four teams, that currently stand at 3-1 in their respective groups' standings, with the chance to punch their ticket to the quarter-final play-offs.

Szolnoki Olaj, Triumph Lyubertsy and the winner of the Ural Ekaterinburg vs. Tsmoki Minsk clash are the teams that will go into the final day of action in the Last 16 with ease of mind provided they do their homework on Tuesday.

Tartu University Rock and Royal Hali Gaziantep have already secured their spots in the play-offs and will clinch top spot in their respective groups should they win on Tuesday.

In the first part of our Last 16 Week 5 preview, we break down the match ups in Group I and in Group J.



Port of Antwerp Giants (2-2) vs. Tartu University Rock (4-0)

Recent Form: Antwerp WWLWL - Tartu WWWWW

Key Match-Up: Ryan Pearson vs. Vilmantas Dilys
The two forwards joined their respective teams late in the season but made an immediate impact and have turned into their primary offensive options. Pearson leads Antwerp in scoring with 18.5 points and also contributes seven rebounds per game, while Dilys, who was joint Last 16 Week 4 Top Statistical Performer, averages a team-high 14.1 points and 7.4 boards per contest.

Key Stat: Tartu Rock leads the EuroChallege in field goal percentage (49.3%) and three-point shooting percentage (40.3%). Antwerp has been one of the few teams to keep them below their average figures. Tartu shot 48.4% from the floor and 33.3% from beyond the arc in the reverse fixture in Estonia but still won the game, 82-74.

Game Notes: Antwerp's Yannick Driesen was injured last week and is doubtful for the Tuesday game. The 2.16m center did not play at the weekend, in Antwerp's loss at Telenet Oostende in the Belgian Ethias League. Maxime De Zeeuw picked up a knock in the same game and is also a potential absence for the Giants. Tartu have already secured a spot in the quarter-final play-offs and in case they win, or lose by seven points or less they will also clinch first place in the group.


14. Slavisa Bogavac (Gaz Metan Medias)
Slavisa Bogavac (pictured) looks set to produce an enticing battle with Michal Ignerski

Krasnye Krylia (2-2) vs. Gaz Metan Medias (0-4)

Recent Form: Krasnye Krylia WWWLL - Medias LLWLL

Key Match-Up: Michal Ignerski vs. Slavisa Bogavac
The reverse fixture was Ignerski's first game with Krasnye Krylia and it turned into a shoot-out between the two big men, as they both finished with season-high figures. Ignerski finished with 25 points and eight rebounds and Bogavac picked up 19 points and also collected eight boards. That difference in the Polish international's favour enabled Krasnye Krylia to edge out the Romanian side 80-77.

Key Stat: The two teams are remarkably balanced in most major statistical categories, but Krasnye Krylia bring down 3.3 rebounds more on average and, quite interestingly, every time they have won the battle on the glass this season, they ended up winning the game. In the reverse fixture, Krasnye Krylia out-rebounded Medias 36 to 26.

Game Notes: Russian international Anton Ponkrashov, one of Krasnye Krylia's key players since the start of the season, joined Lokomotiv Kuban on Monday and will play no further role in the EuroChallenge.



7. Sani Becirovic (KRKA Novo Mesto)
Sani Becirovic has been a revelation for KRKA Novo Mesto

Krka Novo Mesto (2-2) vs. Szolnoki Olaj (3-1)

Recent Form: Krka WWWWW - Szolnoki WWWWL

Key Match-Up: Sani Becirovic vs. Willie Warren
The two guards are similar in that they both play a multi-faceted role that is not accurately reflected in their statistics. Becirovic is the impact veteran who will assume the responsibility in the clutch for Krka, while Warren is the perimeter player who slices up the opposing defence and creates space and opportunities for Szolnoki's excellent big men.

Key Stat: Both rivals have strong arguments to their favour in a game which most likely will be decided on defence. Krka have the 5th-best defence in the EuroChallenge as they give up only 69.6 points to their opponents per game. Szolnoki on the other hand allow their opponents to shoot only 40.2% from the floor on average, which makes them the stingiest team in this respect in the competition.

Game Notes: Szolnoki will secure a top-two finish in the group in case they escape victorious from Novo Mesto. The two sides have met on two occasions this season, both in Hungary, in low-scoring encounters. Szolnoki won the EuroChallenge fixture 65-48, but Krka won the ABA Adriatic league clash, 63-55.


10. Troy Bell (Reggio Emilia)
 Troy Bell is averaging 11.6 points a game for Reggio Emilia

Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (2-2) vs. Cholet Basket (1-3)

Recent Form: Reggio Emilia WWLLL - Cholet LLWLL

Key Match-Up: Troy Bell vs. Anthony Goods
The two point guards of similar stature have had an increased load on their shoulders in recent games. Bell averages 11.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while Goods, who arrived only recently in Cholet, is averaging a team-high 16 points after just two games in the EuroChallenge.

Key Stat: Cholet are struggling to find open looks on offence and shoot only 45.2% from two-point range, the lowest percentage in the EuroChallenge. Reggio Emilia convert a much better 54.7% of their shots from within the arc. The two sides have an almost identical three-point shooting percentage as Reggio Emilia hit 35.5% of their attempts from downtown while Cholet shoot 35.2% from that range.

Game Notes: Andrea Cinciarini, who has been sidelined for the last two weeks through injury, is a game-time decision for Reggio Emilia. Fellow Italian international Angelo Gigli joined Reggio Emilia on Thursday and is poised to make on Tuesday his return to a FIBA Europe competition after a decade, with the same club. The veteran power forward had played with Reggio Emilia in the 2003 edition of the Champions Cup.



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