Szolnoki vs. Triumph Preview

28 April 2012

Szolnoki v Triumph preview
Click to watch the EuroChallenge third place game between Szolnoki Olaj and Triumph Lyubertsy LIVE and for free on FIBA Europe TV - Broadcast starts Sunday at 17:50 CET

The game for third place, in any tournament, possesses a unique feature.

Unlike the final, which comes with the promise of a very tangible reward - a title, a trophy, a gold medal - the third place game only means what you want it to mean.

It is up to each team and each individual player to attach a sense of purpose to it and determine how important it is to finish the tournament on a high note.

These days in Debrecen, Hungary you get the feeling that this game means a lot of things to the hosts, Szolnoki Olaj.

The fans, the club officials, the players, all look forward to winning Sunday's game with Triumph Lyubertsy and, make no mistake, they will celebrate it like a big achievement it if they do.

To Szolnoki, it will mean the biggest success the club has ever had in Europe.

Triumph on the other hand have been here before, in 2009, and they defeated Proteas AEL to claim third place in the EuroChallenge Final Four.

That is not to say that Triumph are more relaxed about the game, only that its outcome carries an importance that right now is much higher to Szolnoki and Hungarian basketball than it is to Triumph and Russian basketball.

Only two things are discussed more among Szolnoki players on the eve of the game than its significance and, in those, they coincide fully with their Triumph colleagues.

The name of Jerry Jefferson, the PBL Regular Season MVP, and the bunch of young players on the Russian team come up immediately when you talk to people on either side.

"It's going to be another physical game for us, Triumph are third in the Russian league and they have a very good and very talented player in Jefferson," says Szolnoki forward Hristo Nikolov.

"He is their top scorer and in fact the top scorer in the Russian league, we have to find a way to stop him and tactically we concentrated on that.

"They also have the young Russian players who are very fast and can also shoot very well from long range, so we have to pay attention to them too."

Triumph point guard Tywain Mc Kee, the man responsible for setting this fast pace, agrees.

"We have to impose out style of play," Mc Kee says.

What is that?

""Our game is to run the court fast and pass the ball," the playmaker explains.

"Preferably to Jefferson," he adds.

What is the negative side of their style?

"When we don't do anything of the above."


18.12.2012 - EUROCHALLENGE

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