|02 December 2013|
|Ronalds Zakis and BK Ventspils can punch their ticket for the Last 16 with a win over Tartu Rock|
All 32 participating teams are in action in the EuroChallenge this week, which marks the start of the second half of the Regular Season.
What is essentially Game Day 4 in the competition is a traditional pivotal point in the season and more so for at least six of the participants.
The two teams that have reached this stage unbeaten, BK Ventspils and Triumph Lyubertsy, are one more win away from securing a spot in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the four teams that are yet to get off the mark desperately need to tick the win column this week or else they will be eliminated from the qualification race.
*Recent form takes into account all domestic and continental league action.
Port of Antwerp Giants (1-2) vs. JDA Dijon (2-1)
Recent Form: PO Antwerp LWLWL - Dijon WWWLW
Key Match-Up: Maxime De Zeeuw vs. Andre Harris
In the reverse fixture De Zeeuw had come up with a personal season-best of 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Antwerp to victory in France. His opposite number at the power forward spot, Harris, has been a consistent performer for Dijon and averages 17.3 points per game in the EuroChallenge, exactly the same as the Belgian international.
Key Stat: No team that competes in the EuroChallenge takes as good care of the ball as PO Antwerp, who only commit nine turnovers per game on average. Dijon on the other hand are the fifth-worse offenders in the EuroChallenge in this respect, turning the ball over an average of 16.3 times per encounter.
Game Notes: In a remarkable coincidence, Maxime De Zeeuw and Frank Turner average a combined 43.1% of the points of PO Antwerp Giants, while Andre Harris with Mykal Riley also score 43.1% of Dijon's points in the EuroChallenge.
Rakvere Tarvas (1-2) vs. SPM Shoeters Den Bosch (2-1)
Recent Form: Tarvas WWLWL - Den Bosch LLLWW
Key Match-Up: Gregory Jenkins vs. Tai Wesley
The frontcourt clash between the two physical, strong big men might prove the key to the game. Jenkins has registered a double-double in points and rebounds in every game in the EuroChallenge so far, while Wesley leads his team in both categories, as he scores 20.3 points and grabs 6.3 rebounds per-game.
Key Stat: Den Bosch are the best team in Group A in terms of field goal percentage, converting 48.6% of their shot attempts from the floor, while Tarvas are sixth from bottom in the entire competition as they only hit 40.7% of their shots from the floor.
Game Notes: The two latest additions to the Tarvas roster, power forward Rain Raadik and guard Larry Hall, are expected to make their EuroChallenge debut on Tuesday. On the opposite end of the spectrum, their team-mate Giedrius Gustas is by far the player with the most vast European experience in this clash, and actually one of the most decorated players in this edition of the EuroChallenge. The Lithuanian guard has won EuroBasket gold with his national team, the Euroleague title with Zalgiris Kaunas and the EuroCup with Barons LMT.
|Krasnye Krylia's Aaron Miles leads the EuroChallenge in assists-per-game|
Royal Hali Gaziantep (2-1) vs. Krasnye Krylia Samara (2-1)
Recent Form: Gaziantep WLLWL - Krasnye Krylia WWLWL
Key Match-Up: Oliver Stevic vs. Julian Wright
Wright averages 17 points per game for Krasnye Krylia, but on Tuesday his performance on the defensive end in the battle of power forwards might be more important to his team, as Stevic makes the most of every ball he receives inside and leads Gaziantep in scoring and rebounds.
Key Stat: Gaziantep convert a competition-best 46.7% of their shots from three-point range, but when two-point shots come into consideration, then no team shoots the ball better in the EuroChallenge than Krasnye Krylia, who sink 52.4% of their attempts. Gaziantep dish out more assists than any other team in the EuroChallenge (21.7 apg) but Krasnye Krylia captain Aaron Miles dishes out more assists than any other player, 8.7 per game.
Game Notes: The new coach of Gaziantep, Jure Zdovc, will direct the Turkish team in a EuroChallenge clash for the first time against a very familiar opponent. Zdovc has been pitted against Sergey Bazarevich both on the court, during their illustrious playing careers, as well as on the sidelines when the Slovenian was at the helm of Spartak St. Petersburg.
CSM Oradea (1-2) vs. Atomerömü Paks (1-2)
Recent Form: Oradea WLLWW - Atomerömü WLWWW
Key Match-Up: Sean Denison vs. Jarrod Jones
Jones came up with a big display and prevailed in the battle of the centers in the reverse fixture and Atomerömü edged out Oradea 78-77. Denison leads the Romanian team in both scoring and rebounds and he will be looking to get even on Tuesday.
Key Stat: Oradea have made their opponents so far look sharper than they really are, as every team that goes up against them shoots the ball above their average. Interestingly though, Atomerömü have the lowest field goal percentage in the EuroChallenge, as they only convert 39.6% of their attempts from the floor.
Game Notes: Atomerömü have participated in four different European competitions in the history of the club, at all levels with the exception of the Euroleague, while Oradea are making their debut in European competitions this season.
BK Ventspils (3-0) vs. Tartu University Rock (1-2)
Recent Form: Ventspils WWWW - Tartu WWWWW
Key Match-Up: Janis Timma vs. Tanel Kurbas
Tartu do not have a winger of the size and features similar to Timma, so it will fall upon Kurbas to limit the all-around play of the Latvian small forward. Timma leads his team in all major statistical categories except scoring and is the second-best rebounder in the competition, with 11.3 boards per game.
Key Stat: Both teams have at least five players in their ranks that average more than eight points per game in the EuroChallenge, so defending very well against a specific offensive threat is unlikely to produce good results for either side.
Game Notes: Tartu have lost 12 consecutive games on the road in European competition, with their last victory away from home dating back to the 2009 edition of the EuroChallenge. If they reverse that trend on Tuesday it will coincide with the EuroChallenge debut of their new arrival, Lithuanian power forward Vilmantas Dilys.
BC Zepter Vienna (1-2) vs. Södertälje BK Kings (1-2)
Recent Form: Vienna LWLWW - Kings LWLLW
Key Match-Up: Nenad Sulovic vs. Toni Bizaca
The two forwards poured in 22 and 21 points respectively in the reverse fixture in Sweden, and there is little evidence to suggest either one of them could not repeat such a performance. Bizaca is the third-leading scorer in the EuroChallenge, with 20.7 points per game, while Sulovic has scored at least 15 points for Vienna in each of their first three games.
Key Stat: Vienna bring down an average of 31.3 rebounds per game, which is perhaps not something to write home about but is definitely better than the 25.3 boards per game of Södertälje, the lowest figure on the glass of any team in the EuroChallenge.
Game Notes: No less than seven players that were born in the former Yugoslavia will take to the floor in this game, with the veteran Stjepan Stazic of Vienna the only one among them to have celebrated a European title. The Croatian-born Austrian international was on the books of Limoges when they won the Korac Cup in 2000.
|Courdon Higgins has been Triumph Lyubertsy's main offensive threat so far|
Inkognito Fashion Körmend (1-2) vs. Triumph Lyubertsy (3-0)
Recent Form: Körmend WWLLW - Triumph WWWLW
Key Match-Up: Devon Moore vs. Courdon Higgins
If the first three game days in the EuroChallenge have proven anything, it's that it is very difficult to prevent Higgins from finding his way to the basket. The Triumph player leads the EuroChallenge in scoring with 22.7 points per game and his direct clash with Moore, who leads Körmend with 17 points per game will be a very interesting sub-plot to the game story.
Key Stat: This encounter could very well turn into a high-scoring shoot-out, as Triumph are the best offensive side in the EuroChallenge with an average output of 89.3 points per game and Körmend are not so far behind, scoring 81.7 points per encounter.
Game Notes: If they win on Tuesday, Triumph will punch their ticket to the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge with two game days to spare. The Russian team had participated in the competition three times before this year's edition, reaching the Final Four on two occasions.
Gaz Metan Medias (2-1) vs. BC Kyiv (0-3)
Recent Form: Medias LWLLW - Kyiv WLLLW
Key Match-Up: Kyle Shiloh vs. Lee Humphrey
Shiloh is an all-around guard who does a bit of everything on the court for Medias and Humphrey will most likely be the Kyiv player whose mission will be to limit his action and prevent him from driving to the basket. Shiloh scored a season-low six points in the reverse fixture.
Key Stat: Kyiv attempted more three-point shots than two-pointers when the two teams met in Ukraine, with poor results (11-of-35 from beyond the arc). They are far more effective when they put the ball inside, as they shoot at 55.9% from two-point range.
Game Notes: This is a do-or-die clash for Kyiv, who can only maintain hope of advancing to the Last 16 if they clinch their first win in the competition on Tuesday.