FIBA Europe Cup - Tuesday Focus: Week 5

9 Toni Bizaca (Södertälje Kings) (Photo: Jörn Wolter)
9 Toni Bizaca (Södertälje Kings) - Telekom Baskets v Södertälje Kings, 2017 FIBA Europe Cup, Bonn - Telekom Dome(Federal Republic of Germany), Regular Season, 25 October 2016

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – With two weeks remaining and plenty of Second Round places up for grabs, the Regular Season of the FIBA Europe Cup is finally building to a crescendo.

Tuesday will feature only four games in the competition, but there will be plenty of intensity in all games of the day, with results carrying the potential to make or break the season for the teams involved.

However, surprising results could theoretically scramble the situation in the standings even further and we could find ourselves with even more unknowns heading into the final week of action.

Sodertalje Kings (1-2) v Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-0), 19:00 CET

Having won both of their home games in Group C against Belfius Mons-Hainaut and Sodertalje Kings, the time has come for German representatives Telekom Baskets to test their strength away from the Telekom Dome.

Currently second in the standings with a 2-0 record and a game in hand, Predrag Krunic's side could clinch the top spot in the group with a road victory against Sodertalje Kings in Sweden.

Since triumphing 85-76 in the first game between the clubs, Telekom Baskets have got the injured Ken Horton back in their rotation which will add an extra layer of difficulty for the Swedes this time around.

In order to avoid a third-place finish, it will be a must-win game for the Kings who lost 94-77 against Mons-Hainaut last week despite a 32-point firework display from Toni Bizaca.

Having got the short end of the stick in terms of the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Belgian side, Sodertalje will in a way have their backs against the wall, but it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that they could still qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

Leading the league in scoring with an average of 23.3 points per game, Sodertalje’s big man Bizaca has been one of the best players in the competition for the second year in a row, but he will need more help than usual from his team-mates in order for the Kings to overcome the Telekom Baskets obstacle.

A loss in Sweden for the Bonn club would create an interesting situation in Group C, as it would open up the possibility of a three-team tie in the standings were Mons-Hainaut to win their return game against Bonn in Belgium as well.

SL Benfica (2-2) v Elan Chalon (3-1), 22:00 CET

Elan Chalon are the only French team in the FIBA Europe Cup still without a ticket to the Second Round, but Jean-Denys Choulet’s side could rectify that as soon as Tuesday with a win on the road against SL Benfica in Portugal.

After making the Final Four of the competition last year, the French side has demonstrated solid play in Group A except for an unexpectedly large slip-up in Hungary against current group leaders Alba Fehervar a couple of weeks ago.

That time, Elan Chalon simply could not handle the Hungarian hosts and slumped to a helpless 111-91 defeat which could in theory provide Benfica with a blueprint ahead of Tuesday’s clash.

Having played three FIBA Europe Cup games on the road in a row, the team from Lisbon will be happy to return to Pavilhao Fidelidade, where they beat Alba Fehervar in overtime back in Week 1 thanks to a buzzer-beater by Carlos Andrade.

The first game between Elan Chalon and Benfica ended in a relatively convincing 90-76 victory for the French team, giving them a sizeable 14-point head-to-head cushion. This could come into play, were the teams to finish the Regular Season with an equal number of wins.

Right now, Elan Chalon are 3-1 in Group C, while Benfica are one win behind at 2-2 and could draw level with a win on Tuesday.

In case of a different scenario, where Elan Chalon wins, Benfica could no longer climb higher than third in the standings and would have to rely on results in other groups to advance to the Second Round.