Preview: A closer look at the FIBA Europe Cup Quarter-Finals
MUNICH (Germany) - Knockout basketball is upon us, with eight teams ready to battle to be crowned champions of the 2022-23 FIBA Europe Cup season.
Four weeks will have passed from the time the Second Round came to an end in early February, so the teams will be refreshed and hungry to resume their campaigns as the competition reaches the business end.
Here's a closer look at the four upcoming matchups:
Brose Bamberg v BC Kalev/Cramo
First Leg: March 6 (17:30 CET) - Tallinn, EST
Second Leg: March 15 (20:00 CET) - Bamberg, GER
Brose Bamberg left it late to secure top spot of Group L in the Second Round as they defeated Anwil Wloclawek for a second time to claim the head-to-head. Four of their six games were decided by less than 5 points and that could be important when it comes to the Play-Offs.
Kalev/Cramo were facing an early exit when they started 1-3 in the Second Round, but went undefeated in February with two crucial wins - including a tight 79-76 success over HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim to advance behind Gaziantep in the group.
Key Players: German national team member Christian Sengfelder is the leading scorer and rebounder for Bamberg with15.2 points and 6.6 boards per game having made a strong start to the season.
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Meanwhile, Latvian Martins Meiers has been arguably the top contributor for Kalev/Cramo after posting solid numbers of 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists with Wesley Van Beck proving a dangerous threat from beyond the arc.
Competition history: Brose Bamberg have enjoyed a successful debut campaign so far with the aim of following in the footsteps of inaugural winners Fraport Skyliners from Germany. Kalev/Cramo are faring better than their previous campaign in which they failed to make it out of the Regular Season.
Cholet Basket v BC Budivelnyk Kyiv
First Leg: March 7 (19:30 CET) - Veroli, ITA
Second Leg: March 14 (20:00 CET) - Cholet, FRA
Cholet Basket claimed top spot on the final day of the Second Round as they avenged an earlier 21-point loss at Porto with a double-digit success of their own. The French side came through the Qualifiers and are a perfect 8-0 on their home court this season.
It was a tougher route through for Budivelnyk Kyiv with their three Second Round wins all being by one-score margins. They held their nerve to progress to the Quarter-Finals with a 3-3 record in Group J and will need to be at their best across the two legs.
Key Players: The French side have contributors all down their roster with American big man Justin Patton one to watch with averages of 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game along with 63.3 percent shooting inside.
Meanwhile, Jerai Grant has been a standout for Budivelnyk Kyiv with 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assist and 1.1 steals per outing - making him one of the best all-round performers in the competition, while Bogdan Bliznyuk has two triple-doubles to his name.
Ohhhh mama, Jerai Grant caught a body to put this game to bed! 💀 #FIBAEuropeCup pic.twitter.com/HQsHY8J9BO— FIBA Europe Cup (@FIBAEuropeCup) January 25, 2023
Competition history: Two FIBA Europe Cup first-timers. Cholet could become the second French winners of the competition after Nanterre 92 beat Elan Chalon in the 2017 Final, while Budivelnyk Kyiv have already become the first side from Ukraine to reach the last eight stage.
Karhu Basket v FC Porto
First Leg: March 8 (21:00 CET) - Porto, POR
Second Leg: March 15 (17:30 CET) - Kauhajoki, FIN
Karhu cruised through the Second Round with their only blip coming in a narrow three-point loss to Group J runners-up BC Budivelnyk Kyiv. The Finnish side have a 10-2 record on the season and are making history representing the country in the Quarter-Finals.
FC Porto made a strong start to the Second Round with four wins from four, but saw their momentum stalled after dropping their final two games in Group I having dealt with some injuries.
Key Players: Jaye Crockett ranks second in the competition in efficiency having been a reliable performer for Karhu with averages of 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
American guard Max Landis leads Porto in scoring with 15.9 points per game having also been rewarded with a new contract to extend his stay with the club until 2025.
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Competition history: This is Karhu's first season in the FIBA Europe Cup, while fellow Finnish side Kataja Basket previously bowed in the Second Round in 2018-19. In contrast, FC Porto have been regulars in the competition, but this is also their first trip to the post-season.
Gaziantep v Anwil Wloclawek
First Leg: March 8 (18:30 CET) - Wloclawek, POL
Second Leg: March 15 (TBC) - TBC
On paper, this may be the strongest combined matchup of the Quarter-Finals. Gaziantep were the only undefeated team in the Second Round and have had three players pick up Player of the Month honors.
The Turkish side followed up a 3-3 record in the Regular Season with six wins from six to state their intentions. Anwil had a tougher path in Group L, but they secured their place in the Quarter-Finals on the penultimate week of Second Round action before missing out on top spot with a hard-fought defeat to Brose Bamberg.
Key Players: Olivier Hanlan has only played seven games for the Turkish side so far in the competition, but he's been making up for lost time. The MVP for January is the team's leading scorer with 16.6 points per game, on an impressive 67.2 percent shooting from the field.
Phillip Greene has been Anwil's most-lethal scorer to date with 17.2 points per game - in no small part thanks to his 52.4 percent shooting from three-point range.
Competition history: Gaziantep has twice made it to the Round of 16 in back-to-back seasons between 2015-17 and are aiming to become the second Turkish team to win the title after Bahcesehir College's triumph last season.
Anwil Wloclawek also previously made it to the Round of 16 stage in the 2020-21 campaign with fellow Polish side Arged BMSLAM Stal finishing as the runners-up in the same season.
You can watch all of the Quarter-Finals games live on the FIBA YouTube channel and follow along with the competition's dedicated social medial channels.