26 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
8 Jason Clark (Antwerp Giants) (Photo: Walter Saenen)
to read

FIBA Europe Cup: Group L preview

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - There will be plenty of story lines to follow in Group L of the FIBA Europe, with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque, Demir Insaat, Antwerp Giants and Prievidza forming an exciting and diverse quartet.

Having reached the Quarter-Finals of the competition last year, the Giants might have a slight edge heading into the Second Round, but the rest of the field will be on their heels right from the get-go.

While Gravelines and Buyukcekmece won their respective groups in the Regular Season, Prievidza was one of four teams to progress despite finishing third and will be especially eager to prove they did not get to the second phase by accident.

BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque (1st in Group B, 4-2)

Despite struggles on the home front in the French LNB Pro A, Gravelines were one of the the most impressive teams in the FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season.

Christian Monschau’s side sealed the Group B crown before the last game of the preliminary round, so a loss to the last-placed Limburg United had no actual implications to the final standings.

Enjoying an excellent season, Justin Cobbs leads the side with 20.0 points on 55.9% shooting from the field, 3.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Meanwhile, the team’s second leading scorer, Kyle Gibson, is putting up 17 points and 3.8 boards per contest.

British big man Myles Hesson is also making an impact averaging 13 points and 5.2 boards, while Richard Solomon has been a big factor on the glass with a healthy contribution of 6.7 points and 7.2 rebounds.

The club recently announced the departure of 27-year-old American shooting guard Steven Gray, who did have a 17-point game against Donar Groningen earlier in the FIBA Europe Cup season. The player has been out of action since the beginning of November, but his departure was made official only last week.

Despite the presence of three experienced guards in Cobbs, Sek Henry and Mathis Keita, as well as the impending return of Belgian combo guard Quentin Serron, coach Monschau is on a lookout for a replacement. 

The club also lost Florent Pietrus to a groin injury for a considerable amount of time.

Although Gravelines topped the group with a 4-2 record, they were below average in all three major statistical categories, ranking 20th in scoring and rebounding and 31st in assists per game.

Individual talent was enough to get by against the likes of Donar Groningen, Kormend and the aforementioned Limburg United, but the Second Round will bring up more difficult challenges.

Demir Insaat Buyukcekmece (1st in Group H, 4-2)

Demir Insaat finished the Regular Season with a loss to Rilski Sportist on the road in Bulgaria, but that did not prevent the Istanbul side from claiming the top spot in Group H.

In spite of finishing the preliminary stage with two losses, Buyukcekmece had one of the best plus/minus at +76, with their victory margin reaching double-digits during all four wins.

Ozhan Civgin’s side is responsible for one of the most impressive performance of the season, as they steamrolled Sigal Prishtina 100-58 early in the FIBA Europe Cup season.

In a way due to the large number of relatively easy victories, Demir Insaat is a unique team in the competition with no player eclipsing an average of 28 minutes per game.

Kenneth Hayes leads the side in scoring with 12.2 points and 4.5 assists, Osiris Eldridge chips in with 11.4 points and 2.6 assists, while Angelo Caloiaro averages 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

There are healthy contributions further down the roster as well and Demir Insaat are fourth in the entire league in scoring at 86.8 points per game despite spreading the minutes out like no other team in the competition.

One could expect the starters to take on a larger role in the Second Round, but the coherent bench unit will undoubtedly be one of the strengths of Buyukcekmece going forward.

Port of Antwerp Giants (2nd in Group D, 4-2)

Antwerp Giants marched all the way to the FIBA Europe Cup Quarter-Finals in the competition’s inaugural campaign and their play in the Regular Season this year has been promising as well.

Having defeated FC Porto and Sopron two times each, the Belgian club finished second in Group D with a 4-2 record. Antwerp did not successfully challenge Nanterre 92 for the top spot, losing both games by a combined 20-point margin, but did give the undefeated French side a good run for extended periods of time in both of the meetings, despite eventually falling short.

One of the elite rebounding teams in the competition, the Giants rank second, only behind Lithuanian side Vytautas Prienai-Birstonas, in the FIBA Europe Cup with 41.4 boards per game.

Leading the team in scoring, Demitrius Conger averages 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while Gavin Ware is flirting with a double-double on a nightly basis, collecting 14.7 points and 8.8 boards on average. Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson is contributing greatly on both ends of the court with 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

Right after the end of the Regular Season, the team announced the addition of Corey Hawkins, the son of NBA legend Hersey Hawkins, until the end of the season. Having averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in six games for Pistoia in the Italian Lega Basket Serie A, the player will give a much-needed boost to Antwerp’s backcourt, which has arguably been its weaker link so far.

Prievidza (3rd in Group F, 3-3)

Having claimed one of the four available spots for the best third-placed teams in the Regular Season, Prievidza will come into the Second Round with an underdog tag.

However, being under the radar is nothing new for the Slovak champions, who clinched qualification very late after edging Lukoil Academic 81-77 in the final Group F game and finished with a 3-3 mark in the standings.

“It’s a great feeling. Nobody expected this. With hard work, staying grounded and playing well we showed that Slovaks can play in this competition,” said Prievidza’s big man Richard Korner after the last win.

With the team demonstrating excellent home form by winning all three home games at the Nike Arena, packed to the ceiling with passionate fans, in the FIBA Europe Cup, it looks like the Cinderella story might continue in the Second Round as well.

Za 30 minút začíname.

A photo posted by BC Prievidza (@bcprievidza_official) on

Prievidza finished the Regular Season as one of the lowest-scoring teams to make it to the next stage of the competition and this is an area where they will need to improve and all eyes will be on the four players currently averaging double digits in scoring: Rastko Dramicanin, Andre Jones, Igor Maric and Richard Korner.

Dramicanin is the top scorer on the team with an average of 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds, Jones is putting up 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while Maric and Korner are in the same region as well.