The landscape has just become noticeably clearer as we reached the halfway point of the FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season this week.
We look back at Game Day 3 to underline some noteworthy events and figures and also to explain the consequences of these results on the remainder of the Regular Season.
Following the conclusion of this week’s action the 12 teams that continue undefeated in the competition as well as six teams that are now placed second in their respective groups have laid the groundwork for securing qualification to the Round of 32 as early as Week 4.
Certain conditions apply of course and these 18 teams are basically divided into two distinct categories.
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne (Group A), Telenet Oostende (Group C), Elan Chalon (Group D), Enisey Krasnoyarsk (Group H), Turk Telekom Ankara (Group J), Energia Targu-Jiu (Group K) and Kataja Basket (Group N) are the privileged teams in this company.
These seven sides depend entirely on themselves, meaning that they will mathematically secure a berth in the Round of 32 in the event that they win their respective games on Game Day 4, regardless of results elsewhere.
The second category includes Belfius Mons-Hainaut from Group A, Port of Antwerp Giants and Cibona Zagreb from Group B, Bakken Bears Aarhus and CEZ Nymburk from Group F, Fraport Skyliners and Krka Novo Mesto from Group G, BK Ventspils and PGE Turow Zgorzelec from Group I, Khimik Yuzhne and Tartu University Rock from Group L.
These 11 teams depend on each other (in the case of Mons-Hainaut this refers to ASVEL) in that either each pair will secure qualification hand-in-hand from their respective group or they will both have to wait until later.
To illustrate this, let’s take next week’s action in Group B as an example. In case Antwerp Giants prevail over KC Sopron and Cibona defeat Benfica, then both Antwerp and Cibona will lock the top two spots and consequently punch their ticket to the Round of 32.
In the event however that either one of Antwerp or Cibona lose on Game Day 4, then the race for the top two spots in that group remains open for at least another week.
STATS OF THE WEEK
CEZ Nymburk were eager to put behind them the painful home loss to Bakken Bears on Game Day 2 and went about it in utterly convincing fashion as they enjoyed a 106-45 rout of Hibernia on Wednesday.
It is difficult to imagine that any team will be able to surpass this 61-point winning margin in the remainder of the season, although the 30 assists that the Czech side collected on Wednesday have only tied Inter Bratislava’s record for most assists in a single game.
Similarly, BC Siauliai registered a figure that could very well remain as a competition record for quite a while, as they poured in 116 points in their victory over Inter Bratislava on 72.7% shooting from two-point range.
To put this offensive output into context, in the entire 11-year history of the EuroChallenge only three teams scored more than 116 points during a 40-minute game.
Paradoxically, Siauliai did not establish a record in the Wednesday game with their field goal percentage as Turk Telekom Ankara and another Lithuanian side, Juventus Utena, stole their thunder.
With regards to three-point field-goal percentage Ankara shot a fantastic 16-of-24 (66.7%) from downtown on Wednesday, in their 108-66 triumph over KTP Basket.
In the EuroChallenge, BC Kyiv had shot 20-of-29 from behind the arc on 25 November 2003 in an 110-71 triumph over Bamberg at home and on 14 February 2007 Akasvayu Girona went 19-for-28 from three-point range to beat JDA Dijon 117-83.
Utena on the other hand set the bar-high for two-point field-goal percentage with their amazing 32-of-43 (74.4%) from within the arc in their 94-59 victory over ETHA and, not content with that, they also came up with a new competition-high 15 steals.
BIG RESULTS OF THE WEEK
In Group L, Khimik travelled to Tartu for the game that would decide which of the two teams enters the second part of the Regular Season as the solitary leader.
The Ukrainian side took their Estonian hosts by surprise racing to a 15-point lead in the third frame and, despite Tartu throwing everything at them late on spurred on by a superb home crowd, Khimik held on to snatch a 63-61 victory.
Khimik now play two of their last three games at home, including of course the reverse fixture with Tartu and are the great favourites to finish in first place in the group.
A similar scenario played out in Group N the following day, as Kataja Basket travelled to Tsmoki Minsk in a battle between two teams that were standing at 2-0.
Here it was Minsk that started off firing on all cylinders and claimed a 15-point lead shortly before half-time, but Kataja showed admirable mental strength to fight back after the interval and surged to an 88-82 triumph on the road to set up themselves for securing qualification as early as next week.
In Group C meanwhile, Södertälje Kings entered their Wednesday clash with Openjobmetis Varese with their backs at the wall as a third consecutive defeat would all but destroy their chances to advance.
The Swedish side rose to the occasion and showed arguably their best basketball in the opening quarter to clinch a 28-13 cushion and although Varese climbed their way back and came within one point in the fourth, Södertälje managed to grind out a vital 90-86 win on the back of a sublime 30-point, seven-rebound display by Christopher Czerapowicz.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Energia Targu-Jiu’s Porter Troupe is a 32-year-old veteran who has experienced many a wonderful nights, but even he will remember his all-round display in Tuesday’s game against Astana as one of the highlights of his career.
The American guard poured in 31 points on a superb 10-of-13 from the floor (including six-of-8 from beyond the three-point arc) and added seven boards, five assists and two steals to lead his team to a famous 89-72 win at home.
Source: FIBA Europe