For the first time ever in the Eurocup quarterfinals, Banvit Bandirma and Paris Levallois square off knowing the winner will claim a place in the semifinals and write a new chapter in its club’s history.
Exploring the unknown
Two clubs are hoping to reach Eurocup heights they have never reached before. Banvit Bandirma and Paris Levallois are both first time Eurocup quarterfinalists and one of them will make more of its club history by reaching the semifinals. Paris only made its Eurocup regular season debut last season, and coming into this series has a 14-14 all-time Eurocup record. On the other hand, this is Banvit’s fifth Eurocup campaign in as many years and only one team has played more Eurocup games in the past five seasons than Banvit. During that period Banvit has compiled a 35-29 record. However, despite it all, Banvit had never been part of an elimination series before the eighthfinals this season, and just like Paris, it has never gotten this far in the competition.
Banvit and Paris may be in the quarterfinals for the first time ever, but these teams do not lack experience. That’s especially true for Banvit, whose players top the charts for games played in recent years. In addition to Vladimir Veremeenko, who ranks first in all-time games played with 112, three more Banvit players – Chuck Davis (60), Keith Simmons (57) and Vladimir Dragicevic (56) – are among the top 10 in games played since 2010-11, which was club’s maiden Eurocup season. Experience can be seen through players’ age, as five on Banvit’s roster are over the age of 30. However, Paris matches well with veteran presence as head coach Gregor Beugnot has six players of 30 years or older available for this series, including a 35-year-old big man Michel Jean-Baptiste-Adolphe and a 34-year-old forward Maleye Ndoye. Paris players might not have as many Eurocup games under their belt as Banvit’s, but eight men on Paris roster do have extensive previous experience with other teams in either the Turkish Airlines Euroleague or in the Eurocup.
Banvit's heavy-duty starters
No team had three players play as many minutes in the eighthfinals as Banvit's core of Sammy Mejia, Chuck Davis and Earl Rowland. Each averaged at least 31 minutes in the two-game series against Virtus Rome, and in Game 2 they accounted for 37 of Banvit's 56 points. In Game 1, starters Rowland, Davis, Mejia, Keith Simmons and Vladimir Veremeenko accounted for 60 of 71 points, and such high production from team's starters has been a trend for this squad led by head coach Selcuk Ernak, who took over from Zoran Lukic after the Last 32. In that mix is also forward Vladimir Dragicevic, who started 15 of 16 games before coming in from the bench in both eighthfinals games. Banvit averages 77.7 points per game this entire season, and these six men combine for 70.9, or a massive 91.2%. In the eighthfinals series, they scored 117 of Banvit's 127 points.
Different approaches to success
While Banvit has won one more game this season, it is Paris that enters this series on a four-game winning streak. Its success has come behind performances from its big three. Center Sharrod Ford is the competition's rebounding leader (9.0 rpg.), and ranks second among qualifying players in performance index rating (19.3). Ford also leads the team with 15.7 points, while do-it-all forward Blake Schilb scores 15.2 per game, and contributes with 4.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds. Point guard Mike Green is the last member of team's big-three, with 10.8 points and a Eurocup second-best 7.1 assists per game. Meanwhile, Banvit's path is a more team-oriented approach where five players average in double-figures. However, no one ranks among the top performers for the season, as Davis leads the team with 13.8 points, Dragicevic pulls down 5.4 rebounds, and Rowland dishes 4.4 assists.
Paris do-or-die on the road heroics
For a team that previously has not even been in the situation to progress past the Eurocup regular season, Paris performed admirably with its season on the line during this campaign. And it has done it on the road, too. In the Last 32, Paris needed to win its last two games to progress, and did it in style. It punched its eighthfinals ticket with 71-77 road win in a do-or-die game against Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul behind monster performance from Ford (35 points, 11 rebounds). In the eighthfinals against PGE Turow Zgorzelec, Paris showed it had more on-the-road magic in store. Only holding a slim 3-point margin after first leg on the home floor, Paris took control from the start of Game 2 en route to a series sweep and 78-87 victory, never putting its advantage in question. Mike Green starred with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, while Blake Schilb netted 24. This quarterfinal series will be decided in the return leg in Bandirma, meaning Paris will have another shot to prove its clutch reputation away from home.