European Competitions

Mons’ bright spot in the FIBA Europe Cup is Emmanuel Nzekwesi

Belfius Mons-Hainaut finished the group stage of the FIBA Europe Cup with a good feeling by beating Telenet Antwerp Giants for the first time this season, counted over all competitions: 86-82, in a game without much at stake in which the two coaches gave a lot of playing time to their young players.

After a balanced first quarter (17-17), Mons took control and led 43-37 at halftime and even 68-53 after 30 minutes, before letting Antwerp back into the game thanks to a fourth quarter won 18-29 by the visitors.

Mons’ European campaign thus ended with two wins and four losses. The bright spot comes on an individual level : Emmanuel Nzekwesi finished as the second top scorer of the FIBA Europe Cup with an average of 20.6 points behind Eugene German, the American shooting guard of Ionikos who played in the same group (22.6 average points), and also second in efficiency with 20.6 behind Michael Kaz Carlson of Heroes Den Bosch with 21.2. Before this last game he even led in both statistical categories, but he was slightly less efficient than usual against Telent Antwerp Giants, with “only” 12 points and 8 rebounds in 32 minutes.

Emmanuel Nzekwesi is a Dutch center of Nigerian descent. He was born in The Hague on September 5, 1997, but moved to the United States at the age of 15 where he played in the NCAA with Oral Roberts from 2016 to 2020, before returning to the Netherlands where he was champion with ZZ Leiden and MVP of the Dutch Basketball League in 2021. He is well on his way to repeating those individual statistics in the BNXT League as well, but he would need some more support if he wants to help Mons win trophies. Perhaps with the return of the injured.

On Wednesday, due to the absence of Justin Cage and Mohamed Pasalic and the low sporting stakes of this FIBA Europe Cup game, Vedran Bosnic was able to give 6 minutes of playing time to Giuliano Neri (5 points) and 4 minutes to Matthew Hodge, on top of the 31 minutes of Igor Mintogo (8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists) and 22 minutes of Zaccharie Mortant (12 points and 3 assists), who are getting used to such volumes by now.

Giants could especially take satisfaction from the return from injury of both Niels: Van den Eynde (11 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists in 13 minutes) and De Ridder (11 points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes). His younger brother Thijs De Ridder also played 18 minutes (4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists) and Quinten Smout 6 minutes (3 points). All four youngsters, by the way, were on the court with Cameron Krutwig to end the game.

The Giants were missing Markel Brown (hamstring), Phil Cofer (sick) and Matthew Tiby (who was unsure).

Despite this defeat, Antwerp finished second in the group, but would have liked to have qualified with a little more glamour. The competition started well with three wins, but ended with three defeats.

by : Daniel Devos

Photo: FIBA Europe Cup

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