Can Antwerp Giants topple Demir Insaat in Istanbul?
MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – After returning from a two-week break, FIBA Europe Cup action will continue on Wednesday completing the first gameday of the Second Round with seven more games.
At the heart of the day’s events are two mouth-watering contests in Group L and Group M, as Demir Insaat welcome Antwerp Giants in Istanbul and Donar Groningen host Enisey Krasnoyarsk at home in the Netherlands.
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Having conquered Group H in the Regular Season with a 4-2 record, Demir Insaat will be looking for new challenges from elsewhere to start their Second Round campaign.
Still perfect at home in Istanbul, Buyukcekmece will test their strength against Group D runners-up Antwerp Giants, who also finished the first phase of the competition with a 4-2 mark.
The Gazanfer Bilge Sports Arena has not been kind to visitors in the FIBA Europe Cup, with Demir Insaat registering wins by 42, 22 and 16 points respectively in each of their three games at home.
Can the Giants break this trend? A lot will depend on their ability to keep the tempo down and limit the Turkish side on offence. However, that is easier said than done.
One of the elite offensive teams in the competition, Demir Insaat, who average a fourth-best 86.8 points per game in the league, can count on various options on that end of the floor.
The team’s leading scorer Kenneth Hayes is averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 assists — not an extraordinary amount — so stopping him alone will not get the job done for Antwerp coach Roel Moors.
The Giants are only 22nd in the league in terms of scoring at 78.8 points per game, but do have a couple of stand-out scorers in Demitrius Conger and Gavin Ware, who combine for nearly 40% of the team’s output with 15.0 and 14.7 points per game respectively.
On the other hand, Giants are one of the best rebounding teams in the FIBA Europe Cup and will put Demir Insaat’s frontcourt of Andrija Stipanovic, Angelo Caloiaro and Kahiem Seawright to the test in the upcoming clash.
The Antwerp club rank second in rebounding with 41.2 boards per game, while it has been one of Buyukcekmece’s weak spots in the Regular Season, as the Turkish team are placed 16th with 36.2 rebounds per game.
It is a long journey from Krasnoyarsk to Groningen. It might be an even longer one back to Siberia for Enisey players if they can’t get a win against Donar, so coach Oleg Okulov’s side will be out there to make sure it does not happen.
After clinching a place in the Second Round, the Enisey play-caller decided to give his main players a couple of games off and the Krasnoyarsk side went on to lose the two remaining contests in the Regular Season, consequently finishing Group H play in second place.
Meanwhile, the close-escape story of Donar, who eventually finished second in Group B, jumping aboard the Second Round train after defeating Kormend in a must-win game in Hungary is already well known.
There will be no place for resting players in the Second Round for Enisey, but there are questions regarding the availability of star big man and FIBA Europe Cup efficiency leader Frank Elegar, who spent time sidelined during the competition break.
In his absence, Suleiman Braimoh stepped up big-time for the Krasnoyarsk club in the last VTB League game, scoring 30 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in the team’s 99-90 triumph against Estonian side BC Kalev/Cramo.
Over the weekend, Dutch Eredivisie leaders Donar squeezed out an 68-67 victory against the second-placed Leiden on the domestic front, with Lance Jeter and Chase Fieler putting up stellar displays. Jeter was close to a triple-double with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists, while Fieler finished the game with 16 points, 14 boards and 4 dimes.
The circumstances of the game against Enisey present Groningen with a perfect opportunity to register an upset against last year’s Final Four participants from Krasnoyarsk, but the Russian team will not be easy prey even if they play without the injured Elegar.