|Giedrius Gustas has already won a EuroChallenge - back in 2008 with Barons LMT. Now he will be looking to emulate that feat six years on with Estonian outfit Rakvere Tarvas|
The EuroChallenge 2013/14 Regular Season tips off on Tuesday and sees 32 clubs enter a race that will conclude with the Final Four of the competition in April.
The 32 participating teams have already showed us a reasonable sample of their strengths and weaknesses in this new season, as all national and regional leagues around Europe are in full spin.
We break down the EuroChallenge opening day match-ups in Groups A, B, C and D based on the performance of the teams in their domestic competitions so far.
SPM SHOETERS DEN BOSCH vs. RAKVERE TARVAS
Season So Far: Den Bosch have improved to 6-1 in the Dutch Eredivisie standings and are now in second place behind Zwolle; Rakvere Tarvas stand at 2-2 in Group A of the BBL Baltic League and at 5-4 in the Estonian Alexela KML.
Last Time Out:
The Dutch side cruised to an 85-63 win over Rotterdam on Sunday in Eredivisie action, behind 21 points from Kees Akerboom and a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double by Stefan Wessels.
Tarvas rallied in the fourth quarter to edge out Tyco Rapla 73-69 in the BBL, on the back of 17 points from Maris Laksa and 14 points from each of Giedrius Gustas and Silver Leppik.
Center Tai Wesley is paramount to Den Bosch and is the Dutch League's second-leading scorer with 19 points-per-game, also leading the team in rebounds, with 7.1 boards-per-game, and blocks (1.1 per-game); David Gonzalvez averages 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds-per-contest.
Power forward Rait Keerles leads Tarvas in both scoring and rebounds, with 19 points and 6.7 rebounds-per-game; Point guard Giedrius Gustas dishes out five assists a night to go with his 14.3 points.
DIJON BASKET vs. PORT OF ANTWERP GIANTS
Season So Far: Dijon have dropped to a 3-2 record in the French Pro A League standings; Port of Antwerp Giants lost their opening game of the Belgian Ethias League season but went on to win the next five and are now solitary leaders in the domestic competition.
Last Time Out:
Dijon lost 69-60 away at Roanne in Pro A action on Saturday night, in large part because of a disastrous second quarter in which their hosts outscored them 26-12. Mykal Riley had a game-high 17 points on 7-for-11 from the floor and added five rebounds in defeat, but no other Dijon player reached double digits in the efficiency index rating.
Antwerp extended their winning streak in the Ethias League to five games on Saturday, with a 74-63 success over VOO Wolves Verviers-Pepinster at home. Roel Moors paved the way for the Giants with 17 points, six boards and two assists while Barry Stewart added 13 points.
Forwards Andre Harris and Mykal Riley lead Dijon in scoring in the Pro A with 16 points and 14.5 points-per-game, respectively, while Anthony Dobbins averages 6.4 rebounds-per-contest and point guard Terrance Campbell dishes out 4.4 assists-per-game.
Barry Stewart leads Antwerp in scoring in the Ethias League with 14.8 points per game, Maxime De Zeeuw averages 13.2 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds and Frank Turner dishes out 4.2 assists-per-night.
|Romanian international Titus Nicoara (right) will be one of the must-watch players for his new club Oradea|
ATOMERÖMÜ SE vs. CSM ORADEA
Season So Far: Atomerömü are joint leaders of the Hungarian League with five victories in six games; Oradea also march first in the Romanian LNB, with a 6-1 record.
Last Time Out:
In Hungarian 1st Division action, Atomerömü defeated KTE-Duna 60-50 on Saturday at home, as frontcourt duo Jarrod Jones and Zsolt Szabó scored 12 points apiece and combined for 19 rebounds.
Oradea picked up a second consecutive win on the road in spectacular fashion in the LNB, 95-53 at CS BC Farul Constanta. Zarko Comagic paced the winners with 14 points and four rebounds, Daniel Popescu had 13 points and four assists and Titus Nicoara finished with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Jarrod Jones leads Atomerömü in both scoring and rebounds, with 14.2 points and 8.2 boards-per-game; point guard Vaughn Deonta leads the side in assists, with 5.3 per-encounter, as is their second-leading scorer, with 12.7 points-per-game.
Power forward Titus Nicoara averages 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds-per-game and leads Oreadea in both statistical categories while Daniel Dillon dishes out a team-high 4.4 assists per night to go with his 9.7 points.
KRASNYE KRYLIA SAMARA vs. ROYAL HALI GAZIANTEP
Season So Far: Samara stand at 2-2 in Regular Season Group B of the VTB United League standings; Gaziantep dropped to 1-3 in the Turkish BEKO TBL over the weekend.
Last Time Out:
Krasnye Krylia were impressive during long spells during the first and third quarters and clinched an 83-74 win away at fellow Russian side Krasny Oktyabr in VTB action, behind a 24-point, four-assist display from Bracey Wright, while Julian Wright added 15 points and seven rebounds.
Gaziantep lost 87-82 on the road at TBL leaders Banvit, despite a 24-point showing by sharp-shooter Serkan Erdoğan and a 16-point, 7-rebound display by Oliver Stevic.
Bracey Wright is Krasnye Krylia's leading scorer in the VTB league with 18.3 points and also adds 3.5 assists-per-night, while Julian Wright averages 18 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds-per-game; point guard Aaron Miles leads the entire league in assists, with 10.3 per-contest.
Serkan Erdoğan averages 20.2 points per game as the fourth-leading scorer in the TBL so far, Dejan Borovnjak scores 14 points-per-game and Oliver Stevic leads Gaziantep in rebounds with 8.5 boards-per-game.
TARTU ROCK vs. BK VENTSPILS
|Latvian national team fringe player, Ronalds Zakis, is having one of his biggest returns in recent memory so far this season for Ventspils|
Season So Far: Tartu Rock lead the Estonian Alexela KML with a 5-0 record and stand at 2-3 in Group C of the BBL Regular Season; Ventspils are in first place in the Latvian LBL with six wins in as many games and are joint leaders of Group B in the BBL with a 3-1 record.
Last Time Out:
Both teams were victorious in BBL action over the weekend. Tartu overcame a slow start to enjoy a 93-50 rout of Valga Maks&Moorits on Saturday, as five players scored in double digits, led by Uros Lukovic who registered a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Also on Saturday, Ventspils held on to defeat Nevezis 68-60 at home on the back of a 17-point, 13-point display by Janis Timma while Ronalds Zakis chipped in with 16 points and Lorenzo Williams finished with 15 points and seven assists.
In the BBL, Vincent Simpson leads Tartu in both scoring and assists, with 12.8 points and 5.2 assists-per-contest; Joosep Toome scores 11.8 points on average and is his team's second-leading rebounder with 4.8 boards-per-game.
In the same competition, big man Ronalds Zakis leads Ventspils in scoring with 13.8 points on average and also contributes 4.8 rebounds-per-game; Janis Timma averages 12.3 points and is the team's top rebounder with 7.1 boards-per-game.
SÖDERTÄLJE KINGS vs. BC ZEPTER VIENNA
Season So Far: Södertälje Kings are in second place in the Swedish Basketligan with an 8-1 record; Vienna have won all seven of their games so far in the Austrian Admiral Bundesliga and are two games clear at the top of the table.
Last Time Out:
Södertälje brushed aside LF Basket 92-57 on Friday night in Basketligan action on the back of 13 points, six rebounds and four assists from Tobias Borg and a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds by Assane Sene.
Vienna cruised to a comfortable 95-68 road win at Chin Min Dragons St. Pölten in the Admiral Bundesliga, as Nikola Pavlicevic had 24 points and five assists, Predrag Miletic finished with 19 points and Nenad Sulovic chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Point guard John Roberson is the Kings' leading scorer and best passer in the Basketligan after the first eight games, scoring 20.1 points and dished out 6.6 assists on average; Forward Toni Bizaca averages 16 points and 4.7 rebounds-per-game so far.
Guard Nikola Pavlicevic leads Vienna in scoring in the Austrian League with 20.5 points-per-game and in assists, with 4.8 passes-per-game; Predrag Miletic contributes 17.3 points-per-game and Florian Trmal brings down a team-high eight rebounds-a-night to go with his 13.6 points.
| Rares Mandache will provide the main scoring option for Gaz Metan Medias|
BC KYIV vs. GAZ METAN MEDIAS
Season So Far: Kyiv are in the penultimate place in the Ukrainian Superleague with one win in the first six games of the season; Medias have also played six games in the Romanian LNB and picked up two victories.
Last Time Out:
Both teams slumped to defeats in their domestic leagues during the weekend. Kyiv were playing on the road against BC Odessa and leading by nine points going into the final two minutes of the clash, but were outscored 15-2 within 120 seconds and lost 77-74, despite a double-double effort of 14 points and 12 rebounds by Michael Davis.
Medias suffered a similar drop in performance in the fourth quarter and lost 81-76 to CS Energia Rovinari at home; Willie Kemp finished with a team-high 18 points and five assists, while Liviu-Gabriel Dumitru and Kyle Shiloh had 12 points each in a losing effort.
Big man Michael Davis leads Kyiv in scoring with 14.3 points-per-game and also contributes five rebounds-per-encounter; winger Vladyslav Podolyan averages 10.7 points-per-game and young forward Vyacheslav Bobrov is the team's top rebounder with 7.8 rebounds-per-night to go with his 8.8 points.
Point guard Willie Kemp leads Medias in both scoring and assists in the LNB, with 16.2 points and 3.2 assists-per-game on average; Rares Mandache scores 14.2 points-per-encounter and Kyle Shiloh averages a team-high 5.3 rebounds-per-night to go with his 10.3 points.
BC TRIUMPH LYUBERTSY MOSCOW REGION vs. INKOGNITO FASHION KÖRMEND BC
Season So Far: Triumph are in seventh place in Group B of the VTB United League Regular Season with a 1-3 record; Körmend stand at 2-4 in the Hungarian 1st Division standings.
Last Time Out:
Triumph lost 87-82 away at Lithuanian club Neptunas on Saturday, as a late comeback attempt fell short. Milovan Rakovic finished with a game-high 23 points, adding eight rebounds, and Jeremy Chappell registered a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds for Triumph in a losing effort.
Also on Saturday, Körmend fell 88-81 to Szedeak at home in Hungarian League action, despite the fact they entered the final frame holding a six-point advantage. Zarko Rakocevic had a team-high 18 points and Jeremy Fears finished with 15 points and a game-high nine assists for Körmend in defeat.
Shooting guard Courdon Higgins leads Triumph in scoring in the VTB League with 22.3 points-per-game and also adds four assists-per-night, big man Milovan Rakovic contributes 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds-per-game while Jeremy Chappell leads the team in both rebounds (7.3 rebounds-per-game) and assists (5.3 assists-per-game) and pours in 15 points-per-clash.
Zarko Rakocevic is Körmend's top scorer in the Hungarian League with 18.3 points-per-game and also averages a team-high 7.5 rebounds; Csaba Ferencz contributes 12.5 points and 5.2 boards-per-game while point guard Jeremy Fears dishes out a team-best 4.2 assists-per-game to go with his 11.7 points on average.