Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Showdown at Lokhalle - MEG Göttingen Faces a Revamped Opponent

by Björn-Lars Blank

In week 4 of EuroChallenge, the German team MEG Göttingen will face an opponent they have very good memories of. In their very first European game the Violets were able to pull off a big upset over BC Lokomotiv Kuban. With this surprising win in Russia, Göttingen truly had a dream start to their first European campaign. In the second match against Lokomotiv (Tuesday, December 15, Tip-Off 7:30 pm CET) they look to once again, surprise the favored team.

Despite the fact Lokomotiv is still waiting for their first Eurochallenge win of the season, the Russian club is the odds-on favorite. The 4th ranked team in Russian Superleague A recently signed two new players, former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Gerald Green and NBA Draftee James Gist. With new signings of this caliber, and only three games left in the opening round of Eurochallenge, Lokomotiv will try to make a strong push to advance and play on in the next round of 16. Coach Sasho Filipovski’s team can hardly afford a fourth straight loss.

Green, who played with Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks last season, has left a good impression in his first domestic league game for Lokomotiv. He collected 29 points in 26 minutes of playing time. Gist added 11 points. Despite the efforts of the new signees, Lokomotiv fell short losing 77-81 to EuroCup team Unics Kazan.

Göttingen started with two wins before dropping their game against KK Buducnost m:tel in week 3. Still, the Violets remain on the top of the standings of group A. And still, Göttingen remains unbeaten at home this season. With the Lokhalle providing a real home court advantage Göttingen won all six home games in the domestic league as well as landing a blowout win over BCM Gravelines Dunkerque two weeks ago. In the 2nd home game of European competition, head coach John Patrick is well aware of the difficulty facing this new look Lokomotiv team.

“We are facing a new Lok Kuban team. Gist and especially Green are two of the most gifted athletes on the planet. We will need our full concentration and some loud support to get the victory. We will not surprise them this time, so we need 40 minutes of intensity and concentration” says Patrick, hoping his team gets a huge lift by the home fans.

In the first encounter Göttingen surprised Lokomotiv and took the opening win. Chris Oliver scored 22 points and collected 11 rebounds. By half time the Violets were already up by 22 points. In the end Göttingen celebrated a 88-76 victory.

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