This Wednesday Mons and Antwerp will face each other in FIBA Europe Cup, but the result will have no impact on the final outcome. Antwerp is qualified, and even if they win, they will not be able to claim the first place in the group, which is already held by Sporting CP, who are ‘positive’ towards the Giants based on the mutual confrontations. Mons could possibly, in case of success, come back to a tie with Ionikos in third place, if the Greeks were to be beaten by the Portuguese, les Hennuyers’ fate has already been decided, since only the first two advance to the next round.
The stakes are therefore quite relative, and are limited to honor and perception. Mons will want to leave the competition with their heads held high, and to win a second game (which would also be their first in front of their home crowd), which would give a little more sparkle to a disappointing European campaign. Antwerp, on the other hand, will want to prove that they deserve to qualify and get back on track in this FIBA Europe Cup, which the Giants started with three wins but ended with two defeats. Avoiding a third in a row would also restore their reputation.
In the betFIRST BNXT League, the two clubs had opposite fortunes this weekend: Christophe Beghin wanted a reaction from his players after the defeat against Ionikos, and he got it: Antwerp blew out Aalst in the Forum. But that was already the case after the heavy defeat at Sporting CP, followed by a good performance against Ostend, and it’s a speech he would like to avoid. The Giants need to become more consistent, both from game to game, but also within a game, where they are still too often up and down.
Mons, on the other hand, resisted well for half a game in Ostend, but also showed its limits. With the injuries, Vedran Bosnic is short of rotations, even if the newcomer Paolo Marinelli showed some good things in the Versluys Dome. Against Antwerp, he will also have the opportunity to integrate himself further.
And then, there is the psychological impact that the “European” game of this Wednesday could also have on the rest of the season. Mons has already lost twice at the Lotto Arena this season (in the betFIRST BNXT League and in the FIBA Europe Cup) and will want to convince itself that it can beat the Giants, at least at home.
It will still be without Mohamed Pasalic and probably also without Justin Cage, and on the Antwerp side without Niels Van den Eynde, Niels De Ridder and Markel Brown. A new opportunity for the youngsters to show themselves.
by : Daniel Devos
Photo: FIBA Europe Cup