Regular season nearly at a close with three spots remaining, EuroCup hangover

The table was set for the regular season finales after Round 9’s drama. ALBA Berlin clinched a Top 16 berth from Group B, but three teams remain engaged in a clash for two remaining spots. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas and Valencia Basket both won to secure first place in Groups A and D, respectively.

Group A

Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas downed Lietkabelis Panevezys 73-92 and clinched first place in Group A on Wednesdya. Gran Canaria improved to 7-1, while Lietkabelis finishes the regular season with a 3-5 record and will be fourth. Kyle Kuric led the winners with 20 points off the bench. Royce O’Neale added 13 for Gran Canaria, which broke the game open with a 2-19 run after halftime and never looked back. Ksistof Lavrinovic led Lietkabelis with 20 points. Nizhny Novgorod secured at least third place with a comfortable 82-97 road victory at winless MZT Skopje Aerodrom. Nizhny improved to 4-3 after a game in which it built a 20-point lead early in the second quarter and never looked back as the team shot 14 for 26 from three-point range. The visitors had six scorers in double figures, led by Deandre Kane who scored 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Jure Lalic paced previously eliminated MZT with 23 points.

Group B

ALBA Berlin punched its Top 16 ticket after rallying late in the game to edge Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 97-99 on the road in the Lithuanian capital. Elmedin Kikanovic scored 29 points and ALBA used a 0-10 fourth-quarter run to grab a lead it never relinquished. The win improved the Berliners to 4-4, ahead of Rytas, RETAbet Bilbao and Montakit Fuenlabrada, who all stand at 3-4. With Rytas and RETAbet playing each other next week, ALBA secured one of the top four places in the group. RETAbet will qualify next week it if beats Khimki Moscow Region or if it loses and Rytas beats Fuenlabrada. Fuenlabrada advances with a win and is out with a loss. Dragan Milosavljevic had 19 points and Malcolm Miller scored 15 for ALBA in victory, while David Logan and Rokas Giedraitis had 16 apiece for Rytas, which made 15 of 25 three-point shots on the night, but still fell short of victory. RETAbet Bilbao Basket survived a do-or-die situation by downing Montakit Fuenlabrada 97-83. RETAbet would have been eliminated with a loss. Ivan Buva and Michael Eric led the winners with 16 points apiece. Alex Llorca led Fuenlabrada also with 16 points.

Group C

Zenit St. Petersburg moved into first place in Group C by edging Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 95-97 on Stefan Markovic’s buzzer-beater. Zenit improved to 5-2 and will win the group if it defeats Unicaja Malaga at home next week. Buducnost fell to 0-7. Ryan Toolson made 5-of-11 three-pointers and scored 32 points for the winners and Markovic finished with 12 points and 6 assists. Petar Popovic and Sead Sehovic led six Buducnost scorers in double figures with 12 points apiece. In an all-Spanish clash that went into extra session, Unicaja held off UCAM Murcia 89-86 and improved to 4-3, while Murcia finished regular season with 4-4 record. Unicaja will finish third if it wins next week and will be fourth otherwise. The host led much of the night, but Murcia’s Jose Angel Antelo hit a three-pointer that sent the game into overtime at 73-73. However, Jamar Smith hit a pair of triples in the extra session and Unicaja never relinquished the lead. Smith led the hosts with 18 points, while Adam Waczynski netted 17 on 3-for-3 shooting from both two-point and three-point range. Facundo Campazzo had 16 points, 7 assists and 4 steals for UCAM.

Group D

Valencia Basket clinched first place in Group D by edging Union Olimpija Ljubljana 72-75 in the Slovenian capital on Wednesday. Valencia needed a win and for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem to loss in Russia and that is exactly what happened. Valencia improved to 6-1, while Olimpija, which had previously been eliminated from Top 16 contention, finished the regular season with a 1-7 record. Pierre Oriola led the winners with 20 points and Will Thomas added 11 and 11 rebounds for Valencia, which had five other players with at least 5 points. Gregor Hrovat led Olimpija with 18 points and no missed shots. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar won its second-straight home game by pounding Jerusalem 88-68 in a clash of former champs. Jerusalem fell to 4-3, but can still finish second in the group if it beats ratiopharm Ulm at home next week. Lokomotiv improved to 3-4 and can finish as high as third if it wins and Jerusalem loses in Round 10. Both teams had previously secured their places in the Top 16. Lokomotiv dominated the glass by outrebounding Jerusalem 35-19 while dishing 21 assists to the visitors’ 8. Kevin Jones made 11 of 14 shots for 22 points and former Jerusalem guard Matt Janning made 3 of 6 three-pointers en route to 20 points and 6 assists for the winners. Amer’e Stoudemire tallied 16 points and 3 blocks in defeat.