26 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
6 Antywane Robinson (Pau-Lacq-Orthez) (photo: Eric Traversie)
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No more room for error: Pau-Lacq-Orthez and Enisey need to get back on track

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - It is not often that we talk about teams like Enisey and Pau-Lacq-Orthez being cornered into must-win situations, but both FIBA Europe Cup front-runners have found themselves in, to varying degrees, sticky situations late in the Second Round.

After going down as victims in last week’s flurry of upsets, the big-name clubs, who had strolled through their international campaigns comfortably up until now, have taken big hits at a crucial point of the competition.

With their season’s worth body of work in the FIBA Europe Cup on the line, Enisey travel to face off with Lukoil Academic in Bulgaria in Group P, while Elan Bearnais host U-BT Cluj-Napoca in Group O.

Lukoil Academic v BC Enisey, 17:30 CET

Having picked up their first FIBA Europe Cup defeat in Krasnoyarsk last week against Donar Groningen, Enisey allowed the Dutch club back into the Round of 16 race and wasted the game they had in hand over Lukoil Academic.

As things stand, both the Russian and Bulgarian clubs share 3-1 records and, while it is not out of the realm of possibilities that both of the teams could sneak into the next round, their qualification aspirations will very much be put one against another on Wednesday.

What is on the line? The winner of the match-up will get some separation at the top of the group standings and emerge as the front-runner to win Group P.

Enisey won the first meeting between the sides in Russia by quite a big margin, 92-71, but that might not even come into the conversation, with the point differential mattering a lot less after the team from Krasnoyarsk lost to Donar.

After a sub-par game last week, Frank Elegar, who has been surpassed by Gaziantep big man Davon Jefferson as the top performer in the FIBA Europe Cup, will be looking to put the team on his back in Sofia again, having collected 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the first encounter against Academic.

Vladislav Trushkin had one of his better games of the season back then, scoring 11 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists, while Suleiman Braimoh went 6-of-7 from the field for 15 points.

Meanwhile, Hristo Zahariev and Danny Gibson had 15 points apiece for the Bulgarian club, with three more players joining them in double figures, but the rest of the team combining for only 8 points.

If Lukoil Academic end up snatching a victory against the current group leaders, it would open up a possibility of a three-way tie in Group P, were Donar to win against the Bulgarian side on the final game day of the Second Round next week.

Pau-Lacq-Orthez v U-BT Cluj-Napoca, 20:00 CET

The state of circumstances is particularly difficult for Elan Bearnais, who are second in Group O with a 2-2 record and could potentially be eliminated from the competition with a loss to U-BT Cluj-Napoca.

Just three weeks ago, the Romanian side handed Pau-Lacq-Orthez its very first defeat in an otherwise overwhelmingly successful FIBA Europe Cup campaign, but the scenario did not seem all that grim.

Do or die game tomorrow in @fibaeuropecup

A video posted by Vlad Moldoveanu (@vladmoldoveanu) on

However, no one expected coach Eric Barthecky’s side to lose once again in Czech Republic, but the previously winless Pardubice taught one of the competition favorites a painful lesson last week as well.

The situation at hand is as follows: if U-BT Cluj-Napoca were to win against the French side and current group leaders Alba Fehervar were to take care of business against Pardubice, Elan Bearnais would not be able to climb higher than third in the standings.

The first game between Pau-Lacq-Orthez and the Cluj-Napoca team was nip-and-tuck right until the fourth quarter, when the Aleksandar Rasic-led Romanian side went on a game-changing run to come away with a 79-69 win.

Rasic, who has made 20 three-pointers in his last five games, led all scorers with 21 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists, while Ousmane Barro chipped in with 17 points and 8 rebounds in a winning effort for U-BT Cluj-Napoca. Vlad Moldoveanu is also back from injury that kept him on the sidelines for the last couple of months.

In the first meeting, Antywane Robinson was the leading scorer for Pau-Lacq-Orthez with 17 points and 5 boards, while Alain Koffi and D.J. Cooper chipped in with 12 points apiece.