|02 December 2013|
|Sean Cunningham and ZZ Leiden need a win to keep their hopes alive in Group G |
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.
Team TEHO Sport Kotka (2-1) vs. GasTerra Flames Groningen (0-3)
Recent Form: Kotka LLWWL - Groningen WLWLW
Key Match-Up: Chris Owens vs. Jeffrey Robinson
The veteran Owens turns 35 in March but that does not prevent him from leading Kotka in scoring with 16.3 points per game and also grab 4.7 rebounds per game. Robinson on the other hand averages a team-high 15 points and 8 rebounds per encounter.
Key Stat: Groningen attempt a quite ambitious 22.3 three-point shots per game, but only convert 25.4% of them. They are much more precise than Kotka from two-point range though, as they hit 53.2% of their shots from inside the arc, compared to the Finnish side's 44%.
Game Notes: The Dutch side have reached the point of no return in the competition, as they will be eliminated from contention for a top-two finish in the group unless they return from Finland with a victory.
Okapi Aalstar (2-1) vs. Reggio Emilia (2-1)
Recent Form: Okapi Aalstar WLWLW - Reggio Emilia LWWLW
Key Match-Up: Ioana Tofi vs. Greg Brunner
Brunner is Reggio Emilia's top scorer so far in the EuroChallenge but his mission on Tuesday will mainly consist in limiting the action of Tofi close to the rim. The Aalst big man has assumed extra offensive responsibilities since star guard Derek Raivio has been sidelined through injury.
Key Stat: Aalst share the ball around less than any other team in the competition (9.1 assists per game) and their situation is not likely to improve with the absence of Raivio, who was dishing out a team-high 2.7 assists per encounter. Reggio Emilia had 15 assists in the Week 3 win against Groningen, with Andrea Cinciarini collecting a team-high six assists in his first game in the EuroChallenge.
Game Notes: Brunner delivered the top statistical performance of Week 1 in the reverse fixture, picking up 22 points and 9 rebounds.
|Last week's top performer Rastko Dramicanin will face some tough opposition in Chinemelu Elonu|
Fortress Jaszberenyi (0-3) vs. Tofas SC Bursa (2-1)
Recent Form: Jaszberenyi LWLLL - Tofas LLWWL
Key Match-Up: Rastko Dramicanin vs. Chinemelu Elonu
The Jaszberenyi center leads his team in scoring with 19.3 points per game but in Elonu he goes up against one of the best big men in the competition, as the Nigerian player leads the EuroChallenge in blocks and rebounds.
Key Stat: Jaszberenyi waste an eye-popping 20 possessions per game as the team with the most turnovers in the EuroChallenge. Their other major weakness is three-point shooting, as the convert only 17.9% of their shots from behind the arc.
Game Notes: The Hungarian side are not only aiming to register their first win in history in a European competition on Tuesday, but are also clinging on for dear life as a defeat would translate into abolishing any chance of advancing to the Last 16.
Ural Ekaterinburg (2-1) vs. Krka Novo Mesto (2-1)
Recent Form: Ekaterinburg WLWWW - Krka WLLWL
Key Match-Up: Lance Harris vs. Jaka Klobucar
Klobucar has had increased offensive responsibilities since Krka's last outing in the EuroChallenge due to the absence of team top-scorer Edo Muric but on Tuesday he will also have to keep an eye on Harris, who leads Ekaterinburg in scoring with 15.3 points per game.
Key Stat: Ekaterinburg are the second-best team in the EuroChallenge in rebounds, with 41.3 boards per game, but Krka can hold their own on the glass and grab a more than decent 39 boards per game. Ekaterinburg are offensively orientated and allow their opponents to score a relatively high 78.3 points on average, while Krka have the second-best defence in the competition, giving up just 65.7 points per game.
Game Notes: Krka could field an injury-depleted side on Tuesday as in addition to point guard Malcolm Armstead, who is sidelined indefinitely and has not played in the EuroChallenge, forwards Edo Muric and Jasmin Hukic are also struggling with health woes and missed their team's last game in the ABA Adriatic league.
Bakken Bears Aarhus (2-1) vs. Zorg En Zekerheid Leiden (0-3)
Recent Form: Bakken WWWLW - Leiden WLLWW
Key Match-Up: Nicolai Iversen vs. Joshua Duinker
Duinker delivered a double-double performance of 20 points and 10 rebounds in the reverse fixture, yet Leiden were on the losing end of a dramatic clash. Part of the reason had to do with the fact that the veteran Iversen came up with a solid display of 13 points and 13 boards, and balanced the battle in the paint.
Key Stat: Leiden are the least productive team in the EuroChallenge, scoring an average of 58.7 points per game. Part of the fault lies on the fact that they convert only 15.6% of their shots from three-point range, the lowest in the competition.
Game Notes: This is Leiden's third participation in the EuroChallenge and in the 2012 edition they advanced to the second stage. If they lose on Tuesday however, they will be knocked out of the race for a place in the Last 16.
Cholet Basket (2-1) vs. Kataja Basket (2-1)
Recent Form: Cholet WWLWL - Kataja WWWWW
Key Match-Up: Lamayn Wilson vs. Michael Morrison
Morrison exploded for 22 points in the reverse fixture and led Kataja to victory, a fact that no doubt the veteran Wilson and the rest of the Cholet frontcourt will be very mindful of on Tuesday. Morrison leads Kataja in scoring and both players lead their respective teams in rebounds.
Key Stat: The contrast in two-point shooting percentage could hardly be any more stark, as Cholet hit only 43.1% of their shots from that range, the lowest in the EuroChallenge, while Kataja convert a competition-best 64.0% of their two-point attempts.
Game Notes: Despite the fantastic run to the play-offs in their maiden EuroChallenge season last year, Kataja have a poor record on the road. The Finns have lost six consecutive away games in the competition since defeating CSU Asesoft Ploiesti in November 2012.
|Evan Ravenel averages a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game |
Rilski Sportist (1-2) vs. Szolnoki Olaj (2-1)
Recent Form: Rilski LLWLW - Szolnoki WLLLL
Key Match-Up: Evan Ravenel vs. Tamas Ivosev
Both power forwards delivered their best performance this season in the reverse fixture, but it was the 16-point, 8-rebound display of Ivosev that lifted Szolnoki to victory. Ravenel, who is Rilski's top rebounder but has not shined offensively since that game has an excellent chance to extract some revenge.
Key Stat: Rilski score an average of 69.7 points in the EuroChallenge, which means they have the third from bottom offence in the competition, while Szolnoki average 75.3 points per game.
Game Notes: Marton Bader reached 357 career rebounds in the EuroChallenge in the last game against BC Mures and is now in fourth place in the history of the competition. Justin Holiday is to make an eagerly-awaited EuroChallenge debut on Tuesday, after scoring a game-high 25 points in Szolnoki's loss to Cedevita at the weekend, in ABA Adriatic league action.
BC Mures (1-2) vs. Tsmoki Minsk (2-1)
Recent Form: Mures WLWLW - Minsk WWWWL
Key Match-Up: Ivan Ivanovic vs. Keith Benson
The veteran Ivanovic has been delivering rock-solid displays of late and leads Mures in rebounds and steals. Benson is a 2.10m center who can defend the Montenegrin big man well and also help out on offence, as he averages 13.7 points per game for Minsk.
Key Stat: Minsk can be really dominant on the glass as they bring down a competition-best 45 rebounds per game. Mures are smaller in size and consequently only average 26.7 boards per night.
Game Notes: Mures point guard Goran Martinic is to make his return to EuroChallenge action following an injury that kept him on the sidelines for almost a month. Martinic had scored a Week 1-high 31 points in his team's win over Minsk in the reverse fixture.