Quarter-final line-up set as Gran Canaria, Zenit claim remaining births, EuroCup Top 16 hangover
The 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals pairings were set after four critical Round 6 games. FC Bayern Munich and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerualem both won their games to finish atop their respective groups and earn home-court advantage for the playoffs, while Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas advanced through victory and Zenit St. Petersburg lost its game, but clinched a playoff berth through a tiebreaker. History was made in the final game when Marko Popovic of Montakit Fuenlabrada became the competition’s career scoring leader.
In a do-or-die battle to stay alive in the competition, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas advanced to the quarterfinals by downing Montakit Fuenlabrada 100-76 at home. Gran Canaria finished the Top 16 with a 4-2 record, second overall, and will face Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in the quarterfinals. Fuenlabrada was third in the group with a 2-4 record. It was a special night for Fuenlabrada combo guard Marko Popovic, who become the EuroCup’s all-time leading scorer with 1,188 points. He needed 15 points to overcome Mire Chatman for first place, and did it with a free throw with 7:37 left. Sasu Salin and Royce O’Neale led the winners with 19 points apiece. Gran Canaria outrebounded the visitors 31-22 and shot the ball with excellent shooting percentages (68.9% 2FG, 45% 3FG, 91.7% FT) to claim the win. First-place Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat UCAM Murcia on the road 77-85. Lokomotiv finished the Top 16 with a 5-1 record and in the quarterfinals will face fellow Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg. Murcia finished its EuroCup campaign with 1-5 record in the Top 16. Mardy Collins led the winners with 20 points. Billy Baron paced Murcia with 21 points.
In a direct battle for the top spot in Group F, FC Bayern Munich clinched first place and the home-court advantage in the quarterfinals with an unusual 74-96 overtime road win at Khimki Moscow Region. The win kept Bayern undefeated in Top 16 action and it will next face Unicaja Malaga in the quarterfinals. Khimki will meet Valencia Basket. Khimki needed to win by more than 16 points to overtake Bayern for the top spot, but the visitors used a 0-15 second-quarter run to open a double-digit margin, and did not relinquish the lead until 28 seconds before the end of the fourth quarter when Alexey Shved made 2 free throws to tie it at 72-72. The game went into overtime, but since all points scored in extra periods do not count in tiebreak situations, Bayern secured first place in the standings at the end of regulation. Bayern opened overtime, however, with 17 unanswered points, allowing only a pair of free throws during the entire extra session, to claim a big win. Maximilian Kleber posted 21 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting plus 10 rebounds to lead Bayern. Shved scored 31 points for the hosts. Lietkabelis Panevezys erased a 20-point deficit to beat ratiophram Ulm 81-86 in both teams’ final EuroCup game for the season. Lietkabelis improved to 2-4 after a sweep of Ulm to finish third in Group F in its first season in the competition. Ulm fell to 0-6. Darjus Lavrinovic and Ben Madgen scored 20 points each to lead the winners, who made 13 of 25 three-point shots (52%). Chris Babb and Raymar Morgan paced Ulm with 13 points apiece. Ulm outrebounded Lietkabelis 33-21, but made only 16 of 29 free throws (55.2%).
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem clinched first place in Group G and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals thanks to a 73-81 victory over Nizhny Novgorod at CEC Nagorny on Wednesday. Jerusalem improved to a 5-1 Top 16 record to win the group and will meet Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas in the best-of-three quarterfinals. Nizhny bowed out of the EruoCup with a 1-5 mark in this stage of the competition. Lior Eliyahu led the Jerusalem attack with 20 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes and Amar’e Stoudemire tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks for the winners. Jerusalem managed to overcome poor three-point shooting (4 of 19; 21.1%) and 23 turnovers by dominating the rebounding battle 24-47 and controlling the paint. DeAndre Kane and Kenny Boynton paced Nizhny with 18 points each. Nizhny led 39-36 at halftime, but Jerusalem used runs of 0-11 in the third quarters and 0-10 in the fourth to pull away for the win. Zenit St. Petersburg reached the quarterfinals despite an 86-84 loss against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in the Lithuanian capital. Both teams finished Group G with 3-3 records, but Zenit had the tiebreaker due to an 88-79 win in Round 2 in St. Petersburg. Accordingly, Zenit placed second and will face Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in the quarterfinals, while Rytas is third and thus eliminated. Sergey Karasev led Zenit with 24 points and Janis Timma added 21. David Logan paced Rytas with 28 points.
Valencia Basket completed a perfect Top 16 by downing ALBA Berlin 73-99 in the German capital. Valencia finished Group H with a 6-0 record and by having the best record overall in the Top 16 earned home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, starting with the best-of-three quarterfinals against Khimki Moscow Region. ALBA finished fourth in the group with a 1-5 record. Slava Kravtsov led six Valencia scorers in double digits with 18 points on 8-of-8 two-point shooting. Eldemin Kikanovic and Carl English paced ALBA with 18 points apiece. Valencia outrebounded ALBA 15-34, dished 26 points and hit 14 of 26 three-pointers (53.9%) to get a well-deserved road win. Cedevita Zagreb finished its EuroCup campaign on a winning note by downing previously-qualified Unicaja Malaga 74-71 in the Croatian capital. Unicaja will next face FC Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals. Cedevita finished Group H in third place with a 2-4 record. Marko Arapovic scored 14 points to pace Cedevita. Dejan Musli collected 18 points and 7 rebounds for Unicaja in defeat.
The Quarterfinals will be played from February 28 to March 8, 2017.
Eight teams will play best-of-three series. Series winners advance to the Semifinals.
Quarterfinal A: Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Quarterfinal B: FC Bayern Munich vs. Unicaja Malaga
Quarterfinal C: Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem vs. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas
Quarterfinal D: Valencia Basket vs. Khimki Moscow Region