19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
Nizhny Novgorod | Photo: Gregory Sokolov
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Power Rankings: Nizhny Novgorod take the big leap; Alba and Bears maintain upward momentum

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - We present the newest edition of the FIBA Europe Cup Power Rankings, a quick and fun way to keep up-to-date with all of the action throughout the Second Round and into the Play-Offs.






Kataja Basket can feel proud about challenging ESSM Le Portel for three quarters. They probably can't feel too proud about losing the final period by 23 points, though. The Finnish side have had time to come to terms with the idea of finishing last in the Power Rankings, but — even in the group of death — hope dies last. 


And it all started out so nice… After winning their Regular Season group, BC Nevezis began the Second Round with a win against Alba Fehervar and then, all of a sudden, forgot how to play basketball. Four consecutive defeats have put the Lithuanians out of contention in Group J, but they'll be trying to finish their maiden international season on a positive note with a challenging fixture against a motivated Demir Insaat side in Istanbul.


Things turned sour pretty fast for Szolnoki Olaj. One of the biggest disappointments of the Second Round, the Hungarians came into the Second Round fancying their chances to advance but gracelessly spun out of the race after managing just a single win in five tries. To be frank, it's hard blame anything other than the team's short rotation and lack of defense. They still could climb to third place, but that is unlikely to change anything.


Figurative shovels have been taken out of the shed at least twice for the burial of Belfius Mons-Hainaut in the Power Rankings, but the Belgians have resurrected their Second Round campaign twice with upsets over Donar Groningen and U-BT Cluj-Napoca. If they pull off another one, we could very well see the Mons side in the Play-Offs.  


U-BT Cluj-Napoca shot themselves in the foot with a somewhat unexpected 80-77 loss to Belfius Mons-Hainaut last week. The result made Group L into a free-for-all on the last gameday of the Second Round and complicated the Romanian side's path to the Play-Offs. The team got Aleksandar Rasic back in the lineup after a loooooong wait on the sidelines, but will it be enough?


Hungary is not a likely holiday destination for Demir Insaat players and staff for the summer. Even for Vlad Moldoveanu, who is from the neighboring Romania. Having been scalded by Alba Fehervar and Egis Kormend three times in the Second Round, Demir Insaat no longer control their future and might have to bow out from the FIBA Europe Cup earlier than expected.


After losing the first three games in the Second Round, Tsmoki-Minsk have outscored the duo of Bakken Bears and Szolnoki Olaj 182-136 in the last two games to stay in contention for a place in the Round of 16. In other words, Tsmoki are smokin'!


Whoops! Having been among the leading teams in the Power Rankings, Istanbul BBSK were pushed off the edge of the Second Round cliff by Nizhny Novgorod with a 24-point defeat in Russia. Despite no longer being in contention for one of the two top spots in Group I, Istanbul BBSK could still qualify if extra spots would open up for best-ranked third-placed teams. However, the 37-point blowout in Le Portel and the latest 24-point loss to Nizhny Novgorod could prove lethal in that perspective as well.


Revenge is a dish best served cold, Keravnos would tell you. After losing the first meeting against Donar Groningen by 40 points on the road in the Netherlands, the Cypriot side settled the score with a 74-72 victory at the Costas Papaellinas Arena. Considering they were 1-2 midway through the Second Round, 3-2 isn't a bad place to be with one game left. Not bad at all.


A hard-to-explain skid by Demir Insaat and some determined, never-give-up type of basketball by Egis Kormend have set us up for a possible Hungarian sweep of Group J, with the Gasper Potocnik-coached Kormend side on the edge of making it happen. The addition of Kevin Dillard, who is averaging 17.0 points and 3.5 assists in his first two FIBA Europe Cup games, has made the Hungarians a force to be reckoned with.


Over the last two months, Mornar Bar have lost just twice and both of the defeats came in overtime against Bakken Bears, who apparently are kryptonite to Montenegrin might. Their seven-game winning streak against tough opposition in the ABA League speaks volumes about their strength, but they still need to earn the right to showcase that strength in the Round of 16.


A lot of things had to go against Donar Groningen for them not to have a ticket to the Round of 16 at this point of the Second Round. A lot of them did and now the Dutch champions, still atop Group L, are no longer in the warm and cozy place in the standings they once were. While quite a few things still have to go wrong for Donar Groningen to miss the Play-Offs, it's no longer inconceivable that could happen.


Alba Fehervar have risen in the Power Rankings ever single week since entering them in second-to-last place early in January. If they don't slow down, they might soon hit the ceiling. An overtime loss against Nevezis wasn't the best way to start the Second Round but coach Branislav Dzunic's men followed up their Lithuanian upset with four wins in a row in Group J. If you take into consideration domestic play, their winning streak is already up to eight games.


Bakken Bears might consider a name change to Bakken Buzzer-Beaters or Bakken Crunch Time Masters. They won every single close game in the Second Round and they've been involved in a few. Interestingly, their 87-76 overtime win against Mornar Bar was their largest victory in Group K… Yes, they won the overtime by double figures! By qualifying for the Play-Offs, Bakken Bears became the first Danish club ever to make it to the final phase of a European competition.


Having been in the lower half of the Group I standings for much of the Second Round, Nizhny Novgorod registered a 110-86 blowout against their main rivals Istanbul BBSK to overtake them in the last turn into the final straight. And they didn't just overtake them. They punctured all four tires in what turned into a something akin to a drive-by shooting, with the suddenly firing-on-all-cylinders Ivan Strebkov doing most of the damage. The rest of the field better watch out; this Nizhny squad have their guns loaded.


Just the third team ever in the FIBA Europe Cup to pull off a double-digit winning streak, ESSM Le Portel extended their stretch of unstoppable play to 10 games with a 90-68 victory against Kataja Basket. And the scary thing is that all it took was for them to flip the 'ON' switch in the fourth quarter, as they won the final frame by 23 points. They have been number one in the Power Rankings since the very first edition and they successfully avoid every single banana skin they've come across in their way so far.

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and are in no way a true, accurate ranking system. All comments are purely those of the author.