|Dmitry Kulagin may see improved minutes for Triumph Lyubertsy in a game with no bearing on the season|
Judgement Day is upon us in the EuroChallenge Last 16, as the three remaining quarter-final berths will meet their rightful owners on Tuesday, the last day of group action in the competition.
Group I and Group J understandably attract the lion's share of attention on the final day of the Last 16, as all of the three last play-off spots will be determined there.
In the second part of this week's preview, we break down the Tuesday match-ups in Group K and Group L.
Triumph Lyubertsy (3-2) vs. BK Ventspils (1-4)
Recent Form: Triumph LWWLL - Ventspils WLWLW
Key Match-Up: Dmitriy Kulagin vs. Janis Timma
As both coaches are likely to give in this clash more time than usual to several of their players, the two young wingers could have the chance to showcase their skills in a protagonist role and their individual match-up could make for an intriguing sub-plot.
Key Stat: No team shoots the ball better from close range than Ventspils, who convert 57.5% of their two-point attempts. The Latvians however only manage to put up 30.2 two-point shots per game, and that condemns them to have the least productive offence in the EuroChallenge, scoring just 66.7 points per game. Triumph shoot 51.1% from two-point range but take 44.3 two-pointers per game and score almost 10 points more than Ventspils on average, 76.2 points per game.
Game Notes: Triumph will come in second in the group regardless of the result. Ventspils have the motivation of avoiding finishing in fourth place in the group and to also avoid exiting the competition on a negative W/L record (they currently stand at 5-6) for the first time since 2009.
|As an undersized power forward, Andre Harris will have his hands full attempting to shut down Dejan Berovnjak |
Royal Hali Gaziantep (5-0) vs. JDA Dijon (1-4)
Recent Form: Gaziantep WWWWL - Dijon WLLWL
Key Match-Up: Dejan Borovnjak vs. Andre Harris
In terms of size, Dijon are one of the smallest lineups in the EuroChallenge and the task of keeping Borovnjak out of the paint will largely fall upon Harris, who is an undersized power forward with a 9cm disadvantage to the Croatian. The two players employ a different playing style but have been equally effective so far in the EuroChallenge, leading their respective teams in scoring.
Key Stat: Dijon have not fared particularly well on the glass in this edition of the EuroChallenge but against Gaziantep they are going up against the only team in the competition which collects even less rebounds than they do. The French bring down 32.2 boards per game, while the Turkish side, despite their phenomenal success average, only claims 30.9 rebounds an outing, the lowest by far in the EuroChallenge Last 16. In the reverse fixture Dijon out-rebounded Gaziantep 32 to 24 and only lost the game in the final two minutes.
Game Notes: Finnish international Mikko Koivisto, who joined Gaziantep last week, is poised to make his debut in the EuroChallenge. Gaziantep suffered a 60-58 defeat to BEKO TBL leaders Banvit at the weekend, their first loss since 26 December across all competitions.
|Anton Glazunov has an interesting defensive assignment on Tuesday night, going head-to-head with the leading scorer in the competition, Sharaud Curry |
Ural Ekaterinburg (4-1) vs. Team TEHO Sport Kotka (2-3)
Recent Form: Ekaterinburg LLWWL - Kotka WLLWL
Key Match-Up: Anton Glazunov vs. Sharaud Curry
In an interesting duel of contrasting styles at the point guard spot the Russian playmaker, who leads the EuroChallenge in assists with 7.5 per game, goes head to head with the leading scorer of the competition. Curry pours in a EuroChallenge-best 20.5 points per game and dishes out 6.7 assists per night, the third-best in the competition.
Key Stat: Ekaterinburg's advantage on the glass over the Finnish side is almost abysmal. The Russian side averages a competition second-best 43.2 rebounds per game, while Kotka bring down 31.5 boards on average out of which only 22.4 are on the defensive end, less than any other team in the Eurochallenge Last 16.
Game Notes: Ekaterinburg will finish the group in first place and Kotka in third, regardless of the result of this encounter. In the reverse fixture, Aaron Mc Ghee scored a European career-high 29 points, adding six rebounds. The American veteran has registered five double-doubles and to date has been Top Statistical Performer of the Week on two occasions in this EuroChallenge season.
|Chris Christoffersen: an active legend of Danish basketball|
Tsmoki Minsk (3-2) vs. Bakken Bears Aarhus (1-4)
Recent Form: Minsk LWLLL - Bakken WWLWW
Key Match-Up: Keith Benson Jr vs. Chris Christoffersen
One of the most dominant centers in this edition of the EuroChallenge will clash heads with a living legend of Danish basketball under the basket. Benson is the third-leading scorer in the competition with 18.2 points per game, while Christoffersen averages 12 points per night. Both players lead their teams in rebounds, with 7.5 and 7.2 boards per game, respectively.
Key Stat: Bakken score an average of 77 points per game in the EuroChallenge, without having ever been involved in an overtime game. That places them as the fifth-best offence in the Last 16, but no team scores as freely as Minsk, who pour in a competition-best 84.6 points per game, on 47.8% shooting from the floor.
Game Notes: Bakken is the only team in this EuroChallenge season that has used the same starting five in every single game, consisting of Kenneth Barker, Brandon Penn, Nicolai Iversen, Thomas Laerke and Chris Christoffersen.