Second Round preview: Which teams will become the final eight?
MUNICH (Germany) - The Second Round promises to be an exciting one as FIBA Europe Cup action resumes this week.
The remaining 16 sides have been split into four groups of four, to battle it out over another six weeks ahead of the Quarter-Finals.
Let's take a look at the title contenders and their seasons so far, as well as the players leading the way for their respective teams.
Balkan Botevgrad (BUL)
Record: 3-1 (Group A winners)
Regular Season: A solid Regular Season that saw them qualify with a game to spare, which happened to be their only loss of the competition to Sporting CP. They shot a shade under 34 percent from three-point range with a balanced scoring rotation, where four of their players averaged double figures.
Key player: The Bulgarian side have a number of players that can step up on any given night, but the most efficient player so far has been Karl Johan Lips, who put up big numbers in his four games played. The Estonian forward had two big double-doubles in the Regular Season, on his way to averaging 15.8 points and 10 rebounds.
Surne Bilbao Basket (ESP)
Record: 6-0 (Group B winners)
Regular Season: One of the pre-competition favorites coming in and so far Bilbao have not disappointed, going unbeaten in a tricky Group B that included last season's winners Anwil Wloclawek. Two hard-fought wins were followed by a statement 48-point demolition of British side Caledonia Gladiators that paved the way for qualification.
Key player: Like Balkan, the Spaniards are another team that likes to share the scoring load with unselfish players across the board. Coming big in his two games against Anwil Wloclawek was 25-year-old Sacha Killeya-Jones, who had 18 and 20 points, respectively against the Polish side. He averaged 13.4 points in his five games played.
BG Gottingen (GER)
Record: 5-1 (Group I winners)
Regular Season: Despite the one blemish to their Regular Season record, the German side were one of the most exciting teams to watch with a fast-paced brand of basketball that saw them rank second in points per game at 93.2. They will be a match for anyone in the Second Round.
Key player: A player to watch not just in the Second Round but for the future is 20-year-old Fedor Zugic. The Montenegrin powerhouse had a competition-best 25 points off 8-of-9 shooting against Keravnos BC and you feel that his best is yet to come.
FC Porto (POR)
Record: 4-2 (Group E runners-up)
Regular Season: The early frontrunners in Group E allowed FC Porto to advance as runners-up. A feat made more impressive as they were one of the teams that came through the Qualifying Rounds. The Portuguese side will come into the Second Round with no fear and with nothing to lose.
Key player: Veteran Carlon Kloof will be a key component for this FC Porto team as the gears to the FIBA Europe Cup shift. The 33-year-old had a consistent Regular Season, averaging 6.9 points per game and 4.6 rebounds, but it's his influence in making the players around him better that could be key.
Jonava CBet (LTU)
Record: 4-2 (Group C winners)
Regular Season: Jonava CBet battled for each other and at times were not as convincing in their victories as they would have liked to have been. However, they fought hard to reach the Group C summit and will look to the Second Round as a new chapter to hopefully go even further.
Key player: Power forward Strahinja Micovic has been a rock for the Lithuanian side, leading the team in scoring at 16.2 points a contest and will no doubt look to keep his hot streak going in the Second Round.
Bahcesehir College (TUR)
Record: 5-1 (Group D winners)
Regular Season: The Turkish powerhouse recovered from their loss on Gameday 1 to ERA Nymburk to ease their way to the top of Group D, finishing the Regular Season third in scoring at 91.2 points and topping the rebounding charts, pulling down 43.8 boards a game.
Key player: The main offensive juggernaut for the former champs is Frenchman Jerry Boutsiele. The forward had three 20-point games and registered double-digit scoring games in all but one of the side's games - averaging 17.2 points in the Regular Season.
Legia Warszawa (POL)
Record: 5-1 (Group J winners)
Regular Season: Legia Warszawa eased their way into the Second Round with the only loss coming on Gameday 6 against Oradea. The Polish side shot a sublime 40.6 percent from three-point land with five of their players averaging 10 points or more.
Key player: Amongst the five players registering double figures is current FIBA Europe Cup leading scorer Christian Vital. The American is a blistering 38.1 percent from deep for his 21.4 points per game and will no doubt be on every opposition's scouting report in the Second Round.
Sporting CP (POR)
Record: 2-2 (Group A runners-up)
Regular Season: Sporting CP sneaked through as one of the best ranked runners-up in a three-team Group A thanks to a big win on the final Gameday against Balkan Botevgrad that sealed their spot. They do boast a formidable trio in Ron Curry, Eddie Ekiyor and Marcus LoVett who stamped their authority throughout the Regular Season.
Key players: The team's efficiency leader is Eddie Ekiyor with a rating of 28, helped by scoring 23.3 points per game, which is also a team-high, closely behind him though is LoVett with 23 points and they will be key moving forward.
Manisa BBSK (TUR)
Record: 5-1 (Group E winners)
Regular Season: Another side that had to get to the Regular Season through the Qualifying Rounds, Manisa had a minor blip against FC Porto but pipped them to top spot in a competitive Group E having also beaten them in the Qualifiers.
Key player: Pako Cruz has been a solid leader for the Turkish side throughout the Regular Season, averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 assists. The Mexican veteran has oozed quality and is a vocal leader of this side.
Casademont Zaragoza (ESP)
Record: 3-1 (Group F winners)
Regular Season: Another of the pre-tournament favorites, they qualified with a game to spare and that final encounter saw them lose to BC Kalev/Cramo. An unselfish team and certainly one to fear going into the Second Round, though they now do so without China-bound Jahlil Okafor.
Key player: American Mark Smith has exploded for two 20-point games in the Regular Season and with the intensity levels rising as the Quarter-Finals beckon, no doubt the 24-year-old will step-up his game.
ERA Nymburk (CZE)
Record: 5-1 (Group D runners-up)
Regular Season: The Czech giants missed out on top spot in Group D, losing the head-to-head with Bahcesehir College but comfortably made it to the Second Round. Like their Turkish counterparts, they average 91.2 points per game and showcased many players that can take over when needed.
Key player: Out of those many players, Thomas Bell stands out as the quick American posted double figures in scoring throughout the Regular Season - averaging 13.3 points per game along with 7.2 rebounds.
BCM Gravelines Dunkerque (FRA)
Record: 2-2 (Group G runners-up)
Regular Season: Despite two losses, BCM Gravelines Dunkerque blew out ZZ Leiden and BC Trepca by holding them to under 50 points which helped them secure their place into the Second Round. French teams have a good tradition in the competition and Gravelines will be keen to follow suit.
Key players: The French side will look to Caleb Walker to carry the load for scoring in a tricky Group M. The American averaged 13 points per game during the Regular Season and there will be tougher battles to come.
ZZ Leiden (NED)
Record: 3-1 (Group G winners)
Regular Season: The Dutch side found comfort at home during the Regular Season, and secured a big road win over BC Trepca to give them the keys to the Group G yard - wrapping up their place in the next phase ahead of a dramatic Gameday 6.
Key player: Dutch forward Luuk van Bree was dominant in the Regular Season, posting 18.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Their upcoming games pose new challenges for the 27-year-old, but one he should relish.
NINERS Chemnitz (GER)
Record: 6-0 (Group H winners)
Regular Season: The German side were one of the most exciting teams to watch as they vanquished all that came before them in Group H, averaging 90.5 points per game and dishing 23.5 assists, which was good enough to rank third overall.
Key players: Wesley Van Beck was the driving force for NINERS Chemnitz during the Regular Season, posting 17.7 points and game. The American was supported well by veteran Ousman Krubally, who in just three games, registered double figures in scoring and is fearless in attacking the basket.
Itelyum Varese (ITA)
Record: 5-1 (Group I runners-up)
Regular Season: A team that boasts two monthly MVPs as well as being the highest scoring team in the competition at 97.2 points, Varese lost out on the tiebreaker to BG Gottingen in Group I. However, they still advanced with just one loss, and will be a dangerous team in this next group phase.
Key player: The MVP for November Olivier Hanlan has been a man on a mission in the Regular Season, averaging 21 points during the last month and having been the catalyst in Varese's run to the Second Round.
CSM CSU Oradea (ROU)
Record: 4-2 (Group J runners-up)
Regular Season: The Romanian side were the only team to beat Legia Warszawa in Group J as their emphatic Gameday 6 victory ensured they advanced as one of the best ranked runners-up. They are enjoying another run in the competition.
Key players: The evergreen Erick Neal has put up fantastic scoring numbers, averaging 17.5 points per game, but given out assists like candy as well, dishing 8.8 a contest as he looks to lead in a tough group.