|The battle betweem Maxime De Zeeuw (in red) and Tai Wesley will be one of the most intriguing micro-clashes in Week 6|
Tuesday 10 December brings us the fifth day of action in the Regular Season and represents a pivotal moment in the campaign of most of the teams that compete in the EuroChallenge.
Several participants could make the decisive step towards the Last 16 this week, while there is a team in almost every single group that could exit the qualification race on Tuesday, should results not go their way.
Circumstances between participants vary considerably, but it is not an exaggeration to state that with the glaring exceptions of Triumph Lyubersty, who have already qualified, and BC Kyiv with Fortress Jaszberenyi, who have no chance of advancing to the next phase, every team will enter on Tuesday a clash where there is a lot at stake.
In the first part of the Week 6 preview, we break down the Tuesday match-ups in groups A through D.
PO Antwerp Giants (2-2) vs. SPM Shoeters Den Bosch (3-1)
Recent Form: Antwerp LWLWL - Den Bosch Den Bosch LWWWW
Key Match-Up: Maxime De Zeeuw vs. Tai Wesley
The two power forwards are in an excellent run of form lately and lead their respective teams in scoring, rebounds and block shots. Wesley erupted for 31 points and 10 rebounds in the reverse fixture to lead the Dutch side to victory. The Belgian international on the other hand had his most discreet display in the competition so far and it was the only occasion where he did not register a double-double.
Key Stat: There is an almost perfect symmetry between the two opponents across most major statistical categories, with Den Bosch having a slight edge on the glass (39 to 36.8 rebounds on average) but losing that advantage when they put the ball on the floor, as they turn the ball 14.8 times per game on average, compared to Antwerp's 10.8 turnovers per contest.
Game Notes: In case they pick up a victory in Antwerp, Den Bosch will secure their passage to the Last 16. The Giants on the other hand could qualify to the next phase if they defeat Den Bosch by eight points or more and Dijon beats Tarvas in the other game in the group.
JDA Dijon (2-2) vs. Rakvere Tarvas (1-3)
Recent Form: Dijon WLWLW - Tarvas LWLLW
Key Match-Up: Andre Harris vs. Gregory Jenkins
Harris poured in 22 points, including a triple with 10 seconds on the clock to lead Dijon to a 65-64 win in extremis in the reverse fixture in Estonia, and leads the French team in scoring. Jenkins, who leads the EuroChallenge in rebounds, has been reliable as a Swiss clock for Tarvas as he has picked up a double-double in each of their four games so far and averages 12 points and 12 boards per contest.
Key Stat: Tarvas are struggling with their shooting as they convert only 38.6% of their shots from the floor, the lowest in the entire competition. Dijon are not sharp from beyond the three-point arc but are shooting a more than decent 52.4% from two-point range.
Game Notes: Should they lose the Tuesday game in France, Tarvas will be eliminated from contention for a top-two spot in the group. Dijon could stay in the race even in case of a loss, but will then depend on other results.
|Dejan Borovnjak is leading Royal Hali Gaziantep in scoring|
Atomerömü Paks (1-3) vs. Royal Hali Gaziantep (3-1)
Recent Form: Atomerömü WWWLW - Gaziantep LWLWL
Key Match-Up: Jarrod Jones vs. Dejan Borovnjak
Borovnjak, who leads Gaziantep in scoring, had his only off-day so far in the reverse fixture, picking up a season-low four points and will be looking for redemption as he has been in great form recently. Atomerömü on the other hand go good when their top-rebounder Jones goes. The Hungarians won one and lost one after a tight fight when the American scored in double digits, while they lost big in the two games that the center had a quiet evening on the offensive end.
Key Stat: Gaziantep are better than their Tuesday hosts in all major statistical categories but one. Atomerömü average a competition-best 9.5 steals per game and punish every absent-minded pass severely. Interestingly, if they fail to re-gain possession in that way they seem to just lower their hands on defence, as they allow 82.8 points per game, the third-worst defence in the EuroChallenge.
Game Notes: Slovenian international Domen Lorbek is to make his debut with Gaziantep. In case the Turkish side leave Hungary victorious, they will have punched their ticket to the Last 16 while Atomerömü will have abolished any chance to do likewise.
Krasnye Krylia Samara (2-2) vs. CSM Oradea (2-2)
Recent Form: Samara LWLLW - Oradea LWWWW
Key Match-Up: Anton Ponkrashov vs. Sean Denison
The Russian international does not lead Krasnye Krylia in any statistical category, but has been a reference point for them during the recent bumpy stretch, contributing solid figures in scoring, rebounds and assists. Denison on the other side is the go-to player for Oradea, leading the team in both scoring and rebounds and the Romanian team's chances of an upset depend upon his form on the night.
Key Stat: Oradea's best chance of stunning the reigning champions on the road is to establish their dominance on the glass. The Romanian side averages 39 rebounds per game, the fourth-best in the entire EuroChallege.
Game Notes: Aaron Miles, Julian Wright and Artem Zabelin are doubtful for Krasnye Krylia, as they are battling injury problems. If the Samara side however manage to clinch victory on Tuesday and Gaziantep also win in the other game, in Hungary, the two teams will secure the top two spots in the group regardless of what happens on the final day.
|Nikola Pavlicevic needs to fire if BC Zepter Vienna are to remain alive in the EuroChallenge|
Tartu Rock (2-2) vs. BC Zepter Vienna (1-3)
Recent Form: Tartu WWWWW - Vienna LWWLW
Key Match-Up: Vincent Simpson vs. Nikola Pavlicevic
The two point guards lead their respective teams in scoring and tend to attempt close to 15 shots per game each, making this a potential shoot-out contest. Pavlicevic led all scorers with 18 points in the reverse fixture and helped Vienna clinch their only win so far.
Key Stat: Tartu convert 54.4% of their shots from two-point range, thanks in large part to the fact that they share the ball effectively and average 15.8 assists per game.
Game Notes: Vienna will be knocked out of the race for a spot in the Last 16 in case they lose on Tuesday.
Södertälje BK Kings (2-2) vs. BK Ventspils (3-1)
Recent Form: Kings LLWWW - Ventspils WWWLL
Key Match-Up: Toni Bizaca vs. Ronalds Zakis
The two big men can go on a scoring spree if left to their own devices and on Tuesday they will have to guard each other, at least during stretches of the game. Bizaca averages 17.8 points per game while Zakis scores 16.8 points on average but had 21 points in the reverse fixture.
Key Stat: Södertälje are the worse team on the glass in the EuroChallenge, bringing down a lowly 24 boards per game, while Ventspils average an excellent 36.3 rebounds per contest.
Game Notes: The two teams have met on three occasions in the EuroChallenge, with Ventspils winning all three encounters. The Tuesday match-up comes a year after the Latvian side's biggest-margin win over the Kings, a 90-56 triumph in the previous edition of the competition. Should Ventspils extend their unbeaten record against Södertälje on Tuesday, they will secure their qualification to the Last 16.
|Kyle Shiloh's clash with Zarko Rakocevic will provide the key match-up when Gaz Metan Medias take on Inkognito Fashion Kormend|
Gaz Metan Medias (3-1) vs. Inkognito Fashion Körmend (1-3)
Recent Form: Medias LLWWW - LLWLW
Key Match-Up: Kyle Shiloh vs. Zarko Rakocevic
The one is a guard and the other is a center, but they both contribute in all facets of the their team's game with their all-round play. Shiloh and Rakocevic are their respective team's top scorers and their performance on the night will set the tone for their team-mates.
Key Stat: Do not be surprised if this clash turns into a shoot-out extravaganza, despite the fact the reverse fixture was a rather low-scoring affair. Both teams are among the top seven sides in the EuroChallenge on offence, with Medias averaging 79.8 points per game and Körmend 78.8 points on average.
Game Notes: Should Medias emerge victorious from the clash, they will accompany Triumph into the Last 16, eliminating Körmend from contention in the process.
BC Kyiv (0-4) vs. Triumph Lyubertsy (4-0)
Recent Form: Kyiv LLLWL - Triumph WLWWW
Key Match-up: Dominique Coleman vs. Courdon Higgins
Coleman is a point guard that focuses on organising his team's game rather than scoring but is a good defender and represents Kyiv's best chance of stopping - or at least limiting - the resourceful Higgins, who averages 21.8 points per game.
Key Stat: The fact that Kyiv have yet to tick the win column is partly explained by their shortcomings on defence, as they give up 90.5 points per game to their opponents, making them the team with the most permissive defence in the entire competition. Triumph is the worst possible opponent for them, as the Russian side averages 87 points per game as the team with the best offence in the EuroChallenge.
Game Notes: Triumph are the only team in the EuroChallenge to enter Game Day 5 undefeated and with their place in the Last 16 secure. Kyiv on the other hand are one of two teams in the competition with four losses in as many games and with no chance of advancing to the next phase.