Defending home court, EuroCup hangover

Regular Season Round 4 was a special one for the home teams; all eight games were won by the hosts. Still there was drama with a double-overtime game and another that had just one overtime. Several games had incredible comebacks. In the end, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas in Group A and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in Group D won to remain undefeated. Next week we reach the regular season midway point.

GROUP A

Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas remained undefeated on the 7DAYS EuroCup season after beating Lietkabelis Panevezys 86-67 at Gran Canaria Arena. All 12 Gran Canaria players scored in the game as the perennial contenders improved to 3-0. Kyle Kuric led the way with 13 points and Bo McCalebb and Pablo Aguilar added 12 points apiece. The hosts used a 17-0 tear to finish the first quarter up by 21 and the visitors never got closer than 9 the rest of the way. Nizhny Novgorod rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to take down MZT Skopje Aerodrom 88-74 in overtime. The hosts used a 13-1 run to take a 1-point lead on DeAndre Kane’s layup and steal with just over a minute remaining. Stefan Sinovec split free throws for MZT to tie it at 70-70 and force overtime, which is when Kenny Boynton went to work and scored 14 of his 18 points in the extra session to guarantee a Nizhny win. Ivan Strebkov also scored 18 and contributed 6 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners, who improved to 2-1. Xavier Thames led MZT with 18 points in defeat as MZT fell to 0-3.

GROUP B

It was a rollercoaster night in Group B where ALBA Berlin needed two overtimes to beat Lietuvos Rytas 124-115 in Mercedes-Benz Arena. It was the second highest single-game point total in competition history, second only to a memorable five-overtime game in which ALBA beat Bosna Sarajevo 141-127 in December 2007. The two teams traded leads throughout the regulation, and Deividas Gailius hit 4 triples to push the Rytas lead to 9 points late in the fourth, but ALBA rallied and David Logan forced overtime by splitting free throws, 92-92. Rytas big man Drew Gordon beat the buzzer at the end of first extra session to tie the game at 103-103 and force the second one, in which ALBA hit 3 three-pointers to secure victory. Elmedin Kikanovic scored a career-high 33 points, Dominique Sutton netted 24 and Peyton Siva 23 in victory. Gailius, Logan and Corey Fisher each had 23 points in defeat. ALBA took sole possession of first place in the group with 3-1 record, while Rytas is still winless. In the other game in the group, Montakit Fuenlabrada beat fellow Spanish rival RETAbet Bilbao Basket 89-78 in unusual fashion. The hosts, which now hold 2-1 record, used a barrage of three-pointers to build a 44-22 lead early in the second quarter, but Bilbao rallied and went in front 60-66 in the third. However, Fuenlabrada put together runs of 9-0 and 14-0 to regain a big double-digit lead and secure victory. Marko Popovic scored 17 points to lead the hosts, and move into fourth place on all-time scoring charts in the competition with 1,134 points. He is 4 points shy of Todor Stoykov for third place, and 13 points behind Chuck Davis for second place. Ian O’Leary contributed in victory with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Scott Bamforth netted 22 for Bilbao, which dropped to 1-2.

GROUP C

Sparked by Ryan Toolson’s special shooting night, Zenit St. Petersburg held off visiting Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 84-79. Zenit led 35-18 midway through the second and 76-64 early in the fourth quarter before the visitors rallied to get closer. Toolson hit 8 triples on 15 attempts to finish with 34 points, one below his EuroCup career high, while Stefan Markovic had a double-double of 14 points and 12 assists in victory, which improved Zenit’s record to 2-1. Marcus Williams scored 20 of his 27 points after halftime for Buducnost, as it dropped to 0-3. In an all-Spanish duel, UCAM Murcia topped Unicaja Malaga 83-75 on its home floor and jumped into sole possession of first place in the group with a 3-1 record, while Unicaja fell to 1-2. Murcia used its rebounding advantage, including 12 on the offensive glass, to get in front for good after halftime, and held to that lead until the very end. Billy Baron led Murcia with 22 points, and Vitor Benite added 21. Kyle Fogg had 26 points for Unicaja.

GROUP D

In a clash of two former champions, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem outgunned Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 90-79 on Wednesday at Pais Arena Jerusalem to stay perfect on the season. Jerusalem triumphed in its third straight game and continues to stand alone atop the Group D standings at 3-0, while Lokomotiv was handed its second consecutive defeat, dropping to 1-2. The hosts’ defense limited Lokomotiv to just 28 points in the second and third quarters, as Jerusalem took a 75-59 lead into the fourth quarter and never looked back. Curtis Jerrells starred with 18 points for the winners and flirted with a triple-double with 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Valencia Basket downed Union Olimpija Ljubljana 87-74 at home to improve its record to 2-1, while Olimpija has four losses in as many games. The hosts took the lead early and never relinquished control as they forced 21 turnovers. Slava Kravtsov led the winners with 12 points.

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