It was a historic round of Eurocup basketball. Three teams clinched first place in their groups on Wednesday and all but one of the open spots to the Last 32 were decided. Two teams remained unbeaten and history was made in the Israeli capital in a double-overtime loss for the hosts and former champs. Donte Smith recorded the seventh triple-double in competition history. He also became the first player with two Eurocup triple-doubles – he had one last season with Maccabi Bazan Haifa – and made Jerusalem the first team to have two triple doubles; Meir Tapiro registered Jerusalem’s first in February 2007.
Two more Last 32 tickets were handed out on Tuesday. CAI Zaragoza outlasted Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia 75-87 and after it won, turned its attention to the game in Paris where upon learning its outcome was able to celebrate a spot in the next stage. Paris Levallois beat Telekom Baskets Bonn 87-80 after overtime to advance too. CAI simply finished stronger in a game that was close throughout. Pedro Llompart starred with 12 points and 13 assists for the winners and Chris Goulding paced the CAI attack with 19 points. Paris needed a late steal and Landing Sane layup to get into the extra session, but once there overpowered the visitors for the win. Sharrod Ford posted 30 points and 11 rebounds for the winners, while Blake Schilb totaled 15 points and 10 assists. On Wednesday, in a showdown between two contenders and with first place on the line, Strasbourg rallied to beat Brose Baskets Bamberg 63-70 on the road to lock first place in Group A. The hosts built their largest lead, 30-15, in the second quarter, and held a 12-point margin in the third, but a 0-15 run put Strasbourg in front and it cruised to victory. Antoine Diot paced the winners with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
The final two teams advanced to the Last 32 from Group B, as FoxTown Cantu and Telenet Ostend secured their passage on to the next stage. Telenet Ostend beat ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne 70-78 on the road to claim its place. John Prince led the winners with 18 points, including some key fourth quarter baskets for Ostend, which led for most of the game and then held off ASVEL’s fourth quarter comeback attempt. Darius Johnson-Odom hit 7 of 9 three-pointers on his way to 31 points as FoxTown Cantu crushed JDA Dijon 89-63 for its third consecutive win. The hosts broke the game open with a 15-0 third-quarter run that took the margin into the 20s and never looked back. Cantu made it through by virtue of a tie-break advantage over ASVEL. First place Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas defeated Artland Dragons Quakenbrueck 81-90 to keep its unbeaten record intact. DaJuan Summers scored 13 points in 17 minutes in the victory that kept Gran Canaria as one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the competition.
The only group with a remaining spot to the Last 32 is this one! Baloncesto Seville defeated SLUC Nancy 85-75 after trailing by as many as 12 points to advance. Nancy led 37-49 in the third quarter, but Nikola Radicevic led a 13-0 run that got things going for the hosts, who extended it to 70-57 and never looked back. Alex Urtasun paced the winners with 20 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting and Willy Hernangomez added 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. EWE Oldenbrug Baskets stopped Proximus Spirou Charleroi 62-75. The visitors built a lead in the first quarter and kept increasing it on the way to 40-60 after three quarters. Oldenburg’s win puts both teams at 3-6 with a chance to advance. Rickey Paulding led Oldenburg’s balanced attack with 12 points. In a Tuesday tipoff, Virtus Rome beat CEZ Nymburk 78-72 to clinch first place in Group C. Despite losing, the Czech champs retain a chance to reach the Last 32 next week. The visitors led 71-72 late, but free throws by Kyle Gibson and Bobby Jones pushed the hosts back ahead and Tre Simmons missed a critical three late. Jones finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for the winners.
On Tuesday, Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul bested VEF Riga 64-76 on the road to keep at least a share of first place in Group D heading into the final game of the regular season. VEF led most of the game, but the visitors pieced together a 4-23 charge bridging the third and fourth quarters to take the lead for good. John Holland led the Besiktas attack with 18 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting. The team as a whole shot 13 for 25 (52%) from behind the arc. Khimki Moscow Region downed Szolnoki Olaj 65-79 to remain in control in the race for first. Khimki never trailed after its 4-15 first quarter run and pulled away for good with a 2-16 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters for a 49-63 lead. Tyler Honeycutt amassed 20 points plus 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks in victory. In a clash of two previously qualified teams, Zenit St. Petersburg held off Union Olimpija Ljubljana 75-74 for its fourth consecutive home win, but Olimpija holds a head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to its 89-84 win in Round 4. Zenit led essentially the entire game, taking control early, but Olimpija always found ways to stay in the game. However, Zenit held on for victory as Artem Vikhorov scored 20 points.
After drama in the Israeli capital, CSU Asesoft Ploiesti beat Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 110-112 in two overtimes to clinch a Last 32 spot. The visitors entered the game needing a win, or a loss by up to 9 points, to progress, and held a double-digit lead on several occasions. But Donta Smith led Jerusalem’s late fourth quarter rally, and sent the game into the extra session. Bracey Wright hit a triple to send it to the second overtime, but Dragan Labovic scored 6 of his 15 points and made a steal in the dying seconds to secure the win for Asesoft. Gerald Lee led in victory with 24 points, while Jarvis Hayes had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. For Jerusalem, Donta Smith had a triple-double of 16 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, and also had 4 blocks and 3 steals with performance index rating 40. Smith became the first player in competition history to record two triple doubles; he also had one last season with Maccabi Bazan Haifa. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius edged Banvit Bandirma 66-71 on the road, for its fourth road win, a season sweep over Banvit, and Rytas also clinched first place. Rytas held double-digit leads in the second and third quarters, before holding off the hosts. Martynas Gecevicius sank 5 three-pointers to lead Rytas with 18 points, while Adas Juskevicius totaled 13 points and 7 assists In its last home game of the Eurocup campaign, previously eliminated Partizan NIS Belgrade bested Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd 84-70 as Dragan Milosavljevic netted 17 on 5-for6-shooting from the three-point range, and Milan Macvan collected 10 points plus 12 boards.
Undefeated group leader Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar edged Buducnost VOLI 79-76, to clinch first place in the group. The visitors put up a brave effort, holding a 31-41 halftime lead, but Lokmotiv’s big third quarter put the hosts in control as they paved the way to another victory. Derrick Brown scored 15 points, and Richard Hendrix amassed 14 points plus 11 rebounds for the winners. PAOK Thessaloniki beat Ventspils 76-62 after a dominant fourth quarter to clinch a spot in the Last 32. PAOK led for much of the game, but Ventspils always kept it close. Ventspils led by 2 in the third quarter and entered the fourth down 2, but PAOK scored 27 points in the final stanza to run away with the victory, get a place in the next stage and pull Buducnost into the Last 32, too. Kevin Langford led the PAOK attack with 15 points. Quinton Hosley scored a last second game-winning basket, as already eliminated Stelmet Zielona Gora claimed a 71-69 win over Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir. Aaron Cel led the way with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in victory, and Hosley had 13 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. D.J Strawberry netted 27 on 4-for-5 three-point shooting for Karsiyaka.