An exciting start of the Eurocup Eighthfinals saw five of eight games finish with a single-digit margin, and one game ending up in a tie. Half of the road teams return home for the second leg with a positive outcome, and a lead they will try to keep safe on the home floor next week. However, with the losing sides having nothing to lose in do-or-die situations, the return legs next week promise great drama.
Fox Town Cantu – Unics Kazan
Unics Kazan held off host FoxTown Cantu 64-70 to return home with an advantage ahead of the second leg. Last year’s Eurocup runner-up, Unics took the lead early in the first quarter, but Cantu melted the deficit before halftime and briefly went in front in the third quarter. However, a 1-14 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters put Unics ahead 55-65, and the visitors held on as Keith Langford and Sergey Bykov scored 14 apiece to lead Unics, while D’or Fischer amassed 11 points and 11 rebounds. Darius Johnons-Odom was game’s top scorer with 15 points for Cantu.
Banvit Bandirma – Virtus Rome
In the opening leg of their series on Wednesday, Banvit Bandirma recorded a 71-55 victory over Virtus Rome. A 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter broke the balance, while defense made the difference in holding the visitors to just 4 points over the final 10 minutes. Sammy Mejia led the winners with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He amassed a performance index rating of 33. E.J. Rowland added 13 points and 5 assists, and Keith Simons contributed 11 points plus 7 boards for the hosts, while Melvin Ejim had 16 points for Rome.
Paris-Levallois – PGE Turow Zgorzelec
In Tuesday’s late game, Paris Levallois held off PGE Turow Zgorzelec for a 74-71 in the first leg of the teams’ two-game total points Eurocup Eighthfinals series in the French capital. The visitors led early in the fourth quarter and the score was tied three times before Paris pushed ahead for good for the narrow victory. Giovan Oniangue paced the hosts with 12 points. Mardy Collins shined with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists for Turow. Turow was plagued by poor shooting from the foul line (15 of 27, 55.5%) and behind the arc (6 of 31, 19.4%), though Paris was not much better (12 of 18 free throws, 66.7%; 6 of 24 threes, 25%).
Cedevita Zagreb – Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas
Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas downed Cedevita Zagreb 76-84 in Game 1 of their series in the Croatian capital on Wednesday, to get closer to the Eurocup quarterfinals. Cedevita made a charge in the first quarter for a 25-19 lead, but the visitors quickly caught up and the teams traded leads until the fourth quarter when Ian O’Leary had 7 points during a 0-13 run that allowed Gran Canaria to return home with a very valuable lead in the series. Brad Newley led the winners with 16 points and Tomas Bellas had 12 in victory, while Fran Pilepic led Cedevita with 18 points.
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius – Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir tied 81-81 in the first leg of their series on Wednesday in the Lithuanian capital. Rytas controlled things in the first half and held a 49-40 halftime margin, but Karsiyaka caught up in the third and the teams often traded leads. In a thrilling finish, Kenny Gabriel’s dunk tied the score with 18 seconds left. Then the hosts missed twice in an attempt to win the game. Martynas Gecevicius was a main contributor for Rrytas with 19 points, Gediminas Orelik added 18 with 8 boards. Bobby Dixon tallied 20 points and 7 assists for Karsiyaka, while Jon Diebler bagged 16.
Valencia Basket – FC Bayern Munich
Reigning Eurocup champion Valencia Basket routed FC Bayern Munich 80-58 at home to gain a significant advantage for the return leg next week. Bayern led early, and a 0-8 run put it up 21-29 in the second quarter. But Bojan Dubljevic led Valencia back, and a buzzer-beating layup by Rafa Martinez gave Valencia a 37-33 halftime edge, before Pau Ribas scored 8 points in a 16-2 run that broke the game open and Valencia cruised to a big win. Dubljevic led the winners with 18 points and Ribas added 16 for Valencia, while Vasilije Micic led Bayern with 19 points.
Zenit St. Petersburg – Khimki Moscow Region
In the first eighthfinals game played on Tuesday, Khimki Moscow Region edged Zenit St. Petersburg 84-86, but the visitors will be left to lament the huge margin they led slip away. Khimki led 34-53 at halftime and by 21 early in the second half before Zenit took charge and came all the way back. The hosts scored 32 third-quarter points – just 2 fewer than their entire first-half output – and held Khimki to 10 in the fourth. Dmitry Kulagin’s fourth three-pointer gave Zenit its first lead since the opening minute at 82-81, but Khimki managed to tie it and win the game on a James Augustine layup. Tyrese Rice scored 22 points and dished 6 assists for Khimki.
Brose Baskets Bamberg – Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar edged Brose Baskets Bamberg on the road 78-80, continuing its perfect season and taking a big step towards a place in the Eurocup quarterfinals. With the win, Lokomotiv also extended its Eurocup-record winning streak to 18 games. Anthony Randolph nailed three triples in the first half, and the visitors built a 16-point second-quarter lead. But Bamberg made a 12-2 run to start the third, and a 13-1 run to open the fourth quarter and go in front, before Krunoslav Simon and Richard Hendrix answered the call to help Lokomotiv prevail. Simon led the winners with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Randolph scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half. Janis Strelnieks netted 15 points for Bamberg.