19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
7 Douglas Wiggins | Photo: Per Bille/www.ry-foto.dk
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Tuesday preview: Will a 14-point lead be enough for Bakken Bears in Le Portel?

Le Portel (FIBA Europe Cup) - The only thing standing between Bakken Bears and the FIBA Europe Cup Semi-Finals is the tough Le Chaudron test in France on Tuesday evening.

The Danish champions enter the second leg of the Quarter-Finals against ESSM Le Portel with a 14-point cushion from last week's 76-62 win in Aarhus, which they won with surprising ease.

However, there will be nothing easy for the Steffen Wich-coached side away from home. Despite carrying a double-digit deficit, Le Portel are a force to be reckoned with on their home floor.

"We will go to France in order to compete," the Bakken Bears playcaller said after the first game. "We will try to play the same way we did on the first leg; we want to run and play fast basketball."

However, it might prove easier said than done. Le Portel have not lost a single game in the FIBA Europe Cup on their home floor, winning all but one of their games by double figures for an average victory margin of 22.5 points.

Their Round of 16 opponents, Dinamo Sassari, learned the hard way that no lead is safe at Le Chaudron, getting eliminated in the previous round of the Play-Offs despite winning the first leg in Sardinia by 17 points, 72-55.

After a miraculous escape in the second leg to stay alive in the FIBA Europe Cup, the French side's head coach Eric Girard was left feeling nothing but disappointment about how his team carried themselves the following week in Denmark.

"There was nothing to take away in terms of enthusiasm or discipline, and our performance individually and as a team," he told La Voix Du Nord, continuing with a rhetorical question. "Did the players think they were unbeatable after our great week?"

"Allowing 21 offensive rebounds is dramatic. We were dominated in all positions, from point guard to center. They played with a lot of intensity and we did not battle. We may have missed our chance at the Semi-Final. I don't know."

Despite losing an important piece in Jakim Donaldson for the season due to injury, ESSM Le Portel have already demonstrated they are capable of erasing a double-digit deficit.

While holding on to their 14-point advantage in the mesmerizing, trumpet-filled atmosphere of Le Chaudron might not be easy for Bakken Bears, one simply can't imagine they will let ESSM Le Portel off the hook easily.

Or will the home magic never end for the French side?

ESSM Le Portel v Bakken Bears

Time: Tuesday, 20:00 CET
Domestic Form: ESSM Le Portel registered an 80-67 win over Hyeres-Toulon to improve to a 12-12 record in France. They currently share 8th place with three other teams. Bakken Bears got a 2-0 lead over Copenhagen Wolfpack in the Quarter-Finals of the Danish championship with a 98-77 victory on Friday.
Key Matchup: Jean-Victor Traore v Jeffrey Crockett
First Leg: Bakken Bears +14 (76-62)
Next Opponent: Winner of Sidigas Scandone Avellino v Juventus Utena
Stream: YouTube.com/FIBA