The 2015-16 Eurocup season started with a bang. Round 1 featured one of the greatest individual performances in competition history by AEK Athens center Loukas Mavrokefalides. Trabzonspor Medical Park recorded a victory in its very first Eurocup game. All told, there were five road winners and seven games decided by a single basket! Everything points to a great season to come!
In an all-German showdown, Telekom Baskets Bonn bested EWE Baskets Oldenburg 88-77. Eugene Lawrence led the winners with 17 points and Tadas Klimavicius added 16. Bonn led by 3 entering the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 run that Andrej Mangold capped with a three-pointer sealed the outcome, 77-67, with over three minutes left. JSF Nanterre defeated Dominion Bilbao Basket 73-76 on the road as Terrance Campbell scored 21 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting. Mam Jaiteh added 14 and 14 rebounds for the victors. A late 0-9 run that Campbell capped with a three-pointer gave Nanterre a good-as-gold road win. Union Olimpija Ljubljana edged Dolomiti Energia Trento 98-97 in the Slovenian capital. Zack Wright led the winners with 18 points and Sava Lesic added 17. Julian Wright led Trento with 22 points. It was a back and forth battle for 40 minutes. A three-pointer by Wright gave Olimpija a 91-81 lead with under four minutes left but Trento got within 98-97 and had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Filippo Baldo Rossi’s mid-range jumper did not fall in.
Last season’s runner-up was the first to see action in Group B. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas outlasted Le Mans Sarthe Basket 74-79 on the road win in the teams’ Eurocup season opener. Gran Canaria led for much of the second half until Le Mans rallied Le Mans late to lead 73-71. But Eulis Baez saved Gran Canaria with a clutch offensive rebound. Baez led six Gran Canaria scorers in double figures with 13 points and 8 rebounds. On Wednesday, it was a memorable Eurocup return for MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, which beat ALBA Berlin 79-60. The all-German showdown marked Ludwigsburg’s return to the competition after eight years. The hosts took control with an 8-0 run in the second quarter and built 36-24 halftime lead, then used a 13-4 spurt in the third to help them increase the advantage to 22 points. Mustafa Shakur paced Ludwigsburg in victory with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. And in an all-Italian clash, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia rallied past Enel Brindisi Basket 82-79 in a highly entertaining clash. Rimantas Kaukenas paced the winners with 17 points. Darjus Lavrinovic scored 8 points in a 16-3 fourth-quarter run for a 75-70 lead that the hosts never relinquished.
The Eurocup season opened with a dramatic contest that wasn’t decided until the closing seconds and saw the winningest team in competition history claim victory. Valencia Basket edged SLUC Nancy 71-74 on a late Sam Van Rossom three-pointer. It capped an exciting fourth quarter that featured five lead changes and seven ties and never saw either team lead by more than a basket. Bojan Dubljevic led the winners with 13 points and Van Rossom finished with 12. On Wednesday, CAI Zaragoza downed Proximus Spirou Charleroi 80-70 at home thanks to 19 points from Stefan Jelovac. Billy Baron led Spirou with 36 points. CAI held a 37-32 edge at the break before Drake Diener and Robin Benzing fueled a 12-2 run that put CAI in charge for good. And ratiopharm Ulm routed Umana Reyer Venice 87-68. Raymar Morgan paced the winners with 22 points on 9-of-12 two-point shooting, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals for a performance index ranking of 41. Ulm outrebounded Venice 41-31. Mike Bramos led the guests with 17 points.
Things went quite differently for two Eurocup debutants in Group D. Unics Kazan routed Steaua CSM EximBank Bucharest 94-68 in the latter’s Eurocup. Keith Langford scored 19 points in 23 minutes and Quino Colom dished a club record 13 assists to pace Unics. Colom also scored 10 to make it a double-double. Trabzonspor Medical Park beat Aris Thessaloniki 74-71 to make its Eurocup debut a memorable one. Andrija Stipanovic scored 19 points and Dwight Hardy had 14, including 4 late free throws to help ice the win. And Buducnost VOLI Podgorica downed Banvit Bandirma 83-70 as Tadija Dragicevic scored 20 points and Omar Cook dished 12 assists in victory. Buducnost that grabbed the lead for good in the first quarter, and went on to build a double-digit lead before halftime. After the break Banvit cut it to 63-57, but that is as close as they got.
The first game on Wednesday saw Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul escapeg from Vilnius with an 87-91 victory over host Lietuvos Rytas. A 16-4 run in the second quarter made the difference for Besiktas, which held a 30-49 margin at halftime and held off a final furious comeback of by Rytas. Maciej Lampe led the winners by scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 on two-point shooting. Zenit St. Petersburg claimed a come-from-behind 85-90 road win over Avtodor Saratov. The hosts took a double digit margin, 46-36 early in the third quarter before Ryan Toolson exploded by scoring 22 points in the second half to lead his team to the lead for good with four minutes left. Toolson was unstoppable and finished with 35 points – 16 of them in the final quarter. He came within a three-pointer of the Eurocup record by shooting 8 for 11 from downtown in addition to 5 assists for an index rating of 37. And PAOK Thessaloniki held off Szolnok Olaj 72-69. At the end of a very balanced second half, the game was decided in the last 29 seconds. Aaron Craft put the visitors in front on 68-69 and then Kostas Vasileiadis scored 4 free throws to give PAOK the chance to celebrate. Uros Duvnjak paced the winners with 17 points and 4 assists.
In historic clash, Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd edged AEK Athens 94-96 in overtime. Tony Mitchell scored 39 points and D.J. Cooper came within 2 assists of the Eurocup record with 14 to lead the winners. Loukas Mavrokefalidis countered with 42 points – he was the first to reach 40 in a Eurocup game in nearly five years – plus 9 rebounds and 4 steals for a performance index rating of 55. That tied the all-time competition record for index rating, which was originally set by Priest Lauderdale of Lukoil Academic in a triple overtime win over KK Zagreb in November 2003. 42 points is also good for the fourth-highest scoring night ever in the Eurocup. The record is 49, set by Randy Duck of Brighton in January 2004. Mitchell’s 39 point-effort is a Eurocup record for a player’s debut game. Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul claimed a valuable 90-94 road win at Neptunas Klaipeda. The visitors spent the entire second half with the lead, and even though Neptunas came within a single point twice in the final minutes, Galatasaray held on. Errick McCollum scored 23 of his 32 points in the second half, hitting 5 of 7 triples and 13 of 13 free throws to lead the winners. He also had 6 rebounds and 4 assists. After an early double-digit deficit, Nizhny Novgorod rallied to beat Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 92-71. The teams were tied at 55-55 in the later stages of the third quarter, but that’s when Nizhny took control thanks to 4 three-pointers from Maxim Grigoryev that made it 74-61 early in the fourth, and the hosts never looked back. Kaspars Berzins finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds for Nizhny.