European Competitions

Make or break for ZZ Leiden

For Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden, the next round of the FIBA Europe Cup is at stake on Wednesday afternoon in Istanbul (3 p.m. Dutch time). A win over unbeaten Bahcesehir College means an automatic qualification for the next round.

By: Menno Schraven
Foto: FIBA Europe Cup

Even in the event of a loss in Turkey, qualification for the second round is still possible. However, Leiden is highly dependent on a defeat by Mornar Bar against winless Iraklis. Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden currently has one win more than the Montenegrins, but has a negative goal difference between them over two games (-8).

Winning is therefore the motto in Istanbul, but that is certainly not an easy task. In the strong Turkish League (with two Euroleague teams and several other clubs that play in one of the European competitions), Bahcesehir has so far done reasonably well (9th of 16 teams). Last weekend they lost by only two points at Darussafaka. In that game, power forward Benjamin Bentil (in 2017 the first Ghanaian in the NBA) also played again, who was not there in the game in Leiden.

Last weekend, Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden had the weekend off due to the voluntary postponement of home games in the BNXT League (due to corona and the obligation to play without an audience). That at least gave center Asbjørn Midtgaard the opportunity to let his foot injury recover further.

Coach Hammink’s team was able to fully focus on this game last week. Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden needs an absolute top performance to beat the Turks on their home turf. In the first game in Leiden, the Turks won 69-79. The first and fourth quarters were exactly the same. In the second quarter Leiden scored only 12 points (against Bahcesehir’s 16), and in the third quarter the difference increased to ten, after which Leiden could not make up the difference. Especially guard Jamar Smith (good for 26 points) hurt Leiden in that game.

For Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden, it is important to start the game sharp and stay focused for 40 minutes, while limiting the turnovers. One or two bad moments and the Turks will strike immediately. The advantage for Leiden is that the Turks are already qualified for the next group phase and do not necessarily have to win. If Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden can take a small lead and defend it to the end, reaching the second round is within reach.



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