The two teams at the bottom of the Group D standings meet is what could already be considered a must-win clash to keep realistic Top 16 hopes alive. After winning on opening night, Nanterre 92 has dropped three games in a row. Last week it suffered its worst loss in terms of margin of victory, 88-72, at the hands of Promitheas Patras despite 20 points and 8 rebounds from Alpha Kaba. Frutti Extra Bursaspor is hunting for its maiden EuroCup win after losing 76-94 to Herbalife Gran Canaria in Round 4. Oguz Savas came off the bench to lead five Bursaspor scorers in double figures with 14 points.
Alpha Kaba and his Bursaspor counterpart Kenny Kadji will provide plenty of action in the paint in this clash. Kaba is third in the EuroCup in rebounding with 9.3 per game and is tied for fourth with 1.5 blocks per game. Kadji plays a different style than Kaba; he has taken as many shots as the Nanterre center, but more than a third of them have come from downtown. This matchup will be critical on Tuesday not just because of the players' talents, but also their tactics as Kadji tries to lure Kaba out of the paint on one end and Kaba tries to overpower Kadji at the other.
Keys to victory: Nanterre
Nanterre's offense has sputtered in recent weeks with 65 points scored in Round 3 and 72 in Round 4. Part of that may be due to a slower pace, but the biggest issue has been poor shooting; Nanterre made just 29 of 65 two-pointers (44.6%) in those games. Better shooting closer to the rim should open up better looks from downtown, where behind Chris Warren and Isaia Cordinier Nanterre is excelling at 42.4%. The team also needs to raise its free-throw shooting, which at 61.9% is second-lowest in the EuroCup.
Keys to victory: Bursaspor
Bursaspor has allowed the most points in the EuroCup (93.3 ppg.), has blocked the second-fewest shots (0.7 bpg.) and has allowed opponents to make 59.2% of their two-pointers. Turning things around starts inside with Kenny Kadji, Perry Jones, Oguz Savas and Metin Turin. Bursaspor has the size and the depth and it must control the paint this week, which would change the trajectory of this game and, perhaps, the team's season.