|16 December 2013|
The judgement day of the EuroChallenge Regular Season is a rare treat for all those who enjoy watching a straightforward do-or-die basketball clash, but hate bringing a calculator to the fight.
Ten teams remain in the running for the last six berths in the Last 16 of the competition and every single one of them holds their fate in the own hands, without the need to depend on results elsewhere or scratch their heads with complicated tie-braking equations.
The main focus is on groups A and C, where both tickets to the Last 16 are still up for grabs, while one more team will qualify from each of groups E and F.
We break down every single encounter that takes place on Tuesday, the final day of the Regular Season.
PO Antwerp Giants (3-2) vs. Rakvere Tarvas (1-4)
Recent Form: Antwerp LWLWW - Tarvas LLWLW
Key Match-Up: Maxime De Zeeuw vs. Rait Keerles
De Zeeuw is in a great run of form and leads Antwerp in scoring and rebounds, both in the EuroChallenge and domestically. In the case that Gregory Jenkins is absent from the Tarvas line-up, Keerles will assume the mission of limiting the Belgian international while at the same time contributing on the offensive end close or above his average of 11.7 points per game.
Key Stat: Tarvas has the second-worst offence in the EuroChallenge, averaging just 63.2 points per game, yet they scored a season-high 77 points against Antwerp in the reverse fixture to claim their only win so far in the competition.
Game Notes: Antwerp will qualify to the Last 16 if they beat Tarvas. The Belgians will actually go through even with a loss, provided that Dijon lose to Den Bosch in the other game of the group. Gregory Jenkins, who leads the EuroChallenge in rebounds, is doubtful for Tuesday. The American big man had to sit on the bench throughout Tarvas's loss to Dijon last week and was not even on the squad at the weekend, when Tarvas defeated TYCO Rapla in Estonian Alexela KML action.
|Tai Wesley will have to bring his A-game if Den Bosch want to advance to the Last 16|
SPM Shoeters Den Bosch (3-2) vs. JDA Dijon (3-2)
Recent Form: Den Bosch WWWLW - Dijon WLWWW
Key Match-Up: Tai Wesley vs. Andre Harris
The two undersized forwards are the main offensive weapon of their respective teams but Harris will probably have to concentrate more on his defensive duties on Tuesday, as Wesley is at his deadliest when Den Bosch are playing at home, where he has been averaging an amazing 27.5 points per game.
Key Stat: Dijon can count on the second-best defence in the EuroChallenge, as they allow only 66 points on average. They gave up 64 points to Den Bosch in the reverse fixture and claimed a 19-point margin victory.
Game Notes: The winner of this clash secures a spot in the Last 16. In case however Antwerp lose in the other game and Dijon win, both the French side and Den Bosch will go through.
Krasnye Krylia Samara (3-2) vs. Atomerömü Paks (1-4)
Recent Form: Samara LLWWW - Atomerömü WLWLW
Key Match-Up: Bracey Wright vs. Rodney Mc Gruder
Both guards take the lion's share of their respective teams' offence as they attempt 14 shots from the floor on average and have scored in double digits in each game in the EuroChallenge so far. Wright averages 17.8 points per game, while Mc Gruder scores 14.2 points per night.
Key Stat: Krasnye Krylia have the best offence in the EuroChallenge, averaging 82.8 per game and in Atomerömü they are going against the third-worse defence in the competition, as the Hungarians give up 81 points to their opponents on average.
Game Notes: Krasnye Krylia have already qualified to the Last 16 while Atomerömü have no chance of advancing to the next phase. This will be Atomerömü's 10th game on the road in the EuroCup/EuroChallenge and they have so far won only once away from home, in 2011.
CSM Oradea (2-3) vs. Royal Hali Gaziantep (4-1)
Recent Form: Oradea WWWLW - Gaziantep LWLWL
Key Match-Up: Sean Denison vs. Dejan Borovnjak
Romanian fans will have the chance to witness an interesting battle between two big men who can wreak havoc under the basket. Denison is equally effective on both ends of the floor and leads his team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots while Borovnjak focuses mainly on offence and averages 14.8 points and 3.2 assists per game.
Key Stat: Oradea are actually better than Gaziantep in several of the main statistical categories but their permissive defence and their poor 3-point shooting has been their downfall in this group. The Romanians allow 78.8 points per game and convert only 26.5% of their 3-point attempts. Gaziantep take the exact same number of shots from that range as Oradea (20.4 per game), but convert them at a rate of 42.2%.
Game Notes: Gaziantep have clinched a Last 16 berth while Oradea are out of the race, but none the less the Romanians could secure their status as the best among all teams that made their European debut in this edition of the EuroChallenge, if they clinch their third win in the Regular Season.
Södertälje BK Kings (3-2) vs. Tartu University Rock (3-2)
|Vincent Simpson is the man Tartu Rock will look at when things get down to the wire|
Recent Form: Södertälje WWWWW - Tartu WWWWW
Key Match-Up: Toni Bizaca vs. Vincent Simpson
Bizaca is a stretch-out power forward that can sink shots from any position on the floor when he gets the hot hand and he leads the Kings in scoring with 16.6 points per game. Simpson's 14.6 points per game might seem less impressive by comparison, but the Tartu guard scores with metronome-like precision, never dropping below 13 points per game.
Key Stat: Södertälje shy away from any battle on the glass and bring down 26 rebounds per game, the lowest in the EuroChallenge, while Tartu average 37 boards per game, 10.4 of which on the offensive end.
Game Notes: This is a direct clash for qualification, with the winner automatically securing their spot in the Last 16. The only scenario in which both opponents advance involves Södertälje winning this encounter and Ventspils losing in the other game in the group.
BK Ventspils (3-2) vs. BC Zepter Vienna (1-4)
Recent Form: Ventspils WLLLW - Vienna WWLWL
Key Match-Up: Janis Timma vs. Nenad Sulovic
The Latvian small forward and the Serbian center are glue-players, who make a contribution in various facets of the game. Timma is the second-leading rebounder in the EuroChallenge, with 10.6 boards per game.
Key Stat: Offensively, the encounter could hardly be more balanced as both sides score an average of 71.8 points per game. Vienna however allow 78.6 points per game, while Ventspils only give up 72.6 points to their opponents on average.
Game Notes: Should they win, Ventspils will qualify to the Last 16. Vienna will finish bottom of the group regardless of Tuesday's results. The 24-year-old center Jerai Grant played his first game with Ventspils at the weekend and is poised to make his EuroChallenge debut. Martins Laksa of Ventspils and Arnas Labuckas of Vienna were team-mates on the the VEF Riga side that competed in EuroChallenge 2010.
Triumph Lyubertsy (4-1) vs. Gaz Metan Medias (4-1)
Recent Form: Triumph LWWWL - Medias WWWWL
Key Match-Up: Courdon Higgins vs. Kyle Shiloh
Despite the fact he only played for 18 minutes last week in the loss against Kyiv, Higgins is still the second-leading scorer in the EuroChallenge with 19.5 points per game and had dropped a season-high 35 points on Medias in the reverse fixture. Shiloh does a bit of everything for Medias and also leads his team in scoring, with 14.8 points per game.
Key Stat: The two sides convert their shots from two-point range at an almost identical rate, as Triumph hit 49.8% and Medias 49.3% of their attempts from within the arc. Triumph have been the only side to force the Romanians to shoot below 40% from the floor, when they edged them 84-81 in overtime in the reverse fixture.
Game Notes: Both teams have qualified to the Last 16 and the winner of this clash will clinch top spot in the group.
BC Kyiv (1-4) vs. Inkognito Fashion Körmend (1-4)
Recent Form: Kyiv LWLWW - Körmend WLWLW
Key Match-Up: Ruslan Otverchenko vs. Zarko Rakocevic
The 23-year-old Otverchenko, who now averages 12 points per game, has gone from strength to strength in this EuroChallenge campaign and was pivotal in Kyiv's first win in the competition last week. Rakocevic on the other hand has been Körmend's most consistent performer and leads his team in both scoring and rebounds.
Key Stat: The two opponents hold the dubious honour of having the most permissive defences in the competition. Kyiv allow 82.8 points per game, while Körmend give up 83.8 points on average.
Game Notes: The reverse fixture evolved into a shoot-out contest which ended with a 103-99 overtime win for Körmend. This combined score of 202 points is the highest in the EuroChallenge since November 2011, when Tsmoki Minsk defeated Pinar Karsiyaka 105-103 in regulation.