Round of 16 preview: Nanterre 92 v Proximus Spirou

15 Jevohn Shepherd (Proximus Spirou) (photo: Benoît Bouchez)
15 Jevohn Shepherd (Proximus Spirou) - Proximus Spirou v Nanterre 92, 2017 FIBA Europe Cup, Charleroi - Spiroudome(Belgium), Round of 16, 8 February 2017

NANTERRE (FIBA Europe Cup) - The slightest of margins separates Nanterre 92 and Proximus Spirou ahead of the second leg of the FIBA Europe Cup Round of 16 tie in France, with the Belgian club holding a one-point edge after coming out on top by a single point in the first meeting between the sides in Charleroi.

After trailing for most of the contest, Spirou got their noses in front in the final quarter of play to secure an 85-84 victory. While it might not have much of an impact in terms of points-differential, it was nonetheless a nice reward for the team's fans at the packed Spiroudome.

"We allowed too many points to be scored in the first two quarter, but reacted well in the second half, especially on defense," Charleroi coach Fulvio Bastianini pointed out after the game. "Nanterre play a similar brand of basketball to my philosophy. They are very fluid. It was a great game, a nice game of basketball to watch. And I am obviously satisfied with the victory."

Although most numbers were pretty even in the boxscore, Spirou's unselfishness and excellent passing game resulted in a 26-14 lead in the assist department. In spite of having an elite rim protector in Mathias Lessort, Nanterre were also outscored 52-32 in the painted area.

Containing D.J. Richardson, who scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field for the Belgian side last time around, will be at the top of the priority list for coach Pascal Donnadieau, as the rest of Spirou's starting unit managed just 30 points.

Lacking some depth, the Nanterre play-caller had to roll with Chris Warren for the full 40 minutes in Belgium after one of the team's key players Spencer Butterfield got himself into some early foul trouble.

Warren was the top scorer for the visitors with 19 points and 7 rebounds, while Heiko Schaffartzik chipped in with 14 points. If this duet can recreate their first-leg performance and Butterfield has a slightly better game, Charleroi might regret not building a larger lead at home.

However, the Belgian side will take not only a one-point edge to Nanterre next week, but also a slightly deeper bench, which will be a factor working in favor of to-be guests from Charleroi. They will try take the scoring punch away from French team's trio by keeping them busy on the defensive end. 

The question is – will they succeed?