|20 January 2014|
|Aaron Miles has some work to do yet if he is to lead Krasnye Krylia to back-to-back championships|
Seven of the eight encounters in Week 2 of the EuroChallenge Last 16 take place on Tuesday and action concludes on Wednesday night with a Scandinavian derby in Group L.
By the end of it, a minimum of 11 sides will have already suffered at least one defeat in this stage, and a minimum of three teams will record their first success after getting off to a losing start last week.
In the first part of our Last 16 Week 2 preview, we break down the match-ups in group I and group J.
Tartu University Rock (1-0) vs. Port Of Antwerp Giants (1-0)
Recent Form: Tartu LWWWW - Antwerp WLLWW
Key Match-Up: Vilmantas Dilys vs. Maxime De Zeeuw
The cherry on top of this battle to stay undefeated in Group I is an intriguing direct clash between two excellent European power forwards. Dilys has evolved into Tartu's top scorer and rebounder since joining the team in late November, while De Zeeuw has been the linchpin of Antwerp's success since the beginning of the season as the seventh-leading scorer and the fourth-leading rebounder in the EuroChallenge, having collected four double-doubles in seven games so far.
Key Stat: Tartu commit 20.3 fouls per game, the third-highest figure among the teams that made it to the Last 16 and they will be playing with fire on Tuesday, as Antwerp convert their shots from the foul line at a EuroChallenge-high 85.5%.
Game Notes: The two sides met twice in the 2009/10 EuroChallenge season and Antwerp won both encounters. Roel Moors and Dennis Donkor were on the roster of Antwerp at the time while Timo Eichfuss and Janar Talts were on the books of Tartu. Talts in fact will be playing the 69th EuroChallenge game of his career on Tuesday, drawing even with James Potter in fourth place on the all-time list of most appearances.
Gaz Metan Medias (0-1) vs. Krasnye Krylia (0-1)
Recent Form: Medias LLWWL - Krasnye Krylia WLLLL
Key Match-Up: Kyle Shiloh vs. Aaron Miles
The performance of the two influential point guards will most likely prove decisive to the outcome of the encounter. Shiloh leads Medias in scoring, rebounds and steals while Miles leads the EuroChallenge in steals and is tied with Ural's Anton Glazunov in first place for most assists per game in the competition, with seven dishes per game.
Key Stat: Medias give up 79.7 points per game, which makes their defence the second-most permissive among all of the Last 16 teams, while Samara, despite their recent drop in form, are still the third-highest scoring team in the competition, averaging 81 points per game.
Game Notes: New signings Michal Ignerski and Filip Videnov are poised to make their debut with Krasnye Krylia in this season's EuroChallenge. Both the Bulgarian guard and the Polish forward have previous experience in the competition. Should Medias defeat Krasnye Krylia they would become the first Romanian team to achieve this feat in Samara's European history.
|Former Slovenian international Sani Becirovic was integral in taking Krka to victory over Szolnoki when the two teams met in ABA Adriatic League|
Szolnoki Olaj (0-1) vs. KRKA Novo Mesto (1-0)
Recent Form: Szolnoki WLLLL - Krka LLLWW
Key Match-Up: Justin Holiday vs. Edo Muric
The two wing players can be devastating if they get the hot hand early on and are left to their own devices. They lead their respective teams in scoring and are reliable long-range shooters, but they are also capable of producing hard-nosed defensive displays.
Key Stat: Krka have the best defence in the EuroChallenge, allowing only 65.9 points per game. Part of it has to do with the fact they lead the competition in steals with 9.3 per game and also force their opponents to shoot only 40.5% from the floor, which is also a EuroChallenge-best after the first seven games in the season.
Game Notes: The two sides clashed in Szolnok on 21 December in ABA Adriatic League action and Krka won 63-55, behind a 13-point, 4-assist display by Sani Becirovic. The former Slovenian international however is nursing an injury and is doubtful for the Tuesday game. Chris Oliver on the other hand has parted ways with Szolnoki and will play no further role in this EuroChallenge campaign. The 28-year-old forward had averaged nine points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game in the competition.
Cholet Basket (0-1) vs. Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (1-0)
Recent Form: Cholet LWLLL- Reggio Emilia WLWWL
Key Match-Up: Lamayn Wilson vs. Greg Brunner
Both teams place enormous importance on their perimeter game and more or less have the personnel to match anything the opponent throws their way in the backcourt. Which is why these two veteran power forwards, that make the most of any ball that comes their way, could emerge as the unforeseen protagonists and tip the balance in their team's favour.
Key Stat: Reggio Emilia are the weakest team on the glass among the 16 sides that are still alive in the EuroChallenge, as they average only 32 rebounds per game. Cholet bring down 35.7 rebounds per contest, but shoot the ball much worse than the Italians inside, converting 44.4% of their two-point shots compared to Reggio Emilia's 53.7%.
Game Notes: Torey Thomas is poised to make his debut with Cholet on Tuesday after joining the French side over the weekend. Cholet returned to European competitions this season after losing the 2009 EuroChallenge final to an Italian team, Virtus Bologna. They were a regular in European competitions in the decade leading up to that final, and had a perfectly balanced 3-3 record against Italian teams since 1998, before the loss to Bologna.