Powerhouses advance to Top 16, EuroCup round up

Round 7 saw three more powerhouses clinch spots in the next stage, while the races in other places got tighter than ever.

UNICS Kazan from Group A and Group C powerhouses ALBA Berlin and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius advanced to the Top 16 this week. In Group B, the difference between third place and last place is one win! And in Group D, four teams are tied for first place at 3-4 with a fifth team just one win back.

GROUP A

Cedevita Zagreb rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit before using overtime to knock already-qualified Darussafaka Istanbul from the ranks of the unbeatens, pulling out an improbable 89-83 win in the Croatian capital. Cedevita improved to 4-3 on the season, and is on the verge of a place in the Top 16, while first-place Darussafaka dropped to 6-1. Darussafaka led 46-62 lead early in the fourth, but Roko Ukic and Will Cherry led a Cedevita comeback. Cherry drove for a layup that forced the overtime with 15 seconds to go in the regulation, and Cedevita never trailed in the extra session. Ukic finished with a EuroCup career-high 27 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting. UNICS Kazan clinched a berth in the Top 16 by overpowering Levallois Metropolitans 68-78. UNICS improved to 5-2 and Levallois fell to 1-6. UNICS took control early to lead by 11 in the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way. Boris Diaw helped the hosts rally to within 6 in the third quarter, but UNICS quickly regained control. The key statistic was UNICS outrebounding Levallois 24-46. Stephane Lasme posted 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks for the winners. Morabanc Andorra stayed in the race to reach the Top 16 by downing Fiat Turin 83-77. Andorra’s record is now 2-5 and Fiat is 3-4. Jaime Fernandez led the winners with a EuroCup career-high 19 points.

GROUP B

FC Bayern Munich remained undefeated by edging Lietkabelis Panevezys 87-88. Bayern, which had already qualified to the Top 16, improved to 7-0 and dropped Lietkabelis to 3-4. Milan Macvan led the winners with 19 points. Lietkabelis fought till the end as Zygimantas Skucas’s late heroics and free throws by Ksistof Lavrinovic helped the hosts tie the game at 87-87 with 8.8 seconds left. Braydon Hobbs became the game hero by hitting the game-winning free throw, allowing Bayern to walk away with another road win. Buducnost VOLI Podgorica started the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run to pull away for a convincing 92-75 victory over Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. Petar Popovic erupted for a career-high 20 points as Buducnost snapped a three-game losing streak, completed the season sweep of Jerusalem and took over sole possession of second place in Group B with a 4-3 record. And Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul downed Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia 82-72 at home. Galatasaray took its record to 2-5 and overcame a 3-point Round 2 defeat to win the tiebreaker over Reggio Emilia, which dropped to 3-4. Alex Renfroe starred with 10 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds in victory for the hosts who pulled away for good with a 13-2 fourth-quarter run.

GROUP C

The gate to the Top 16 saw two more teams from Group C pass through on Tuesday when Limoges CSP completed its 86-74 victory over RETAbet Bilbao Basket. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, which earlier got season highs from Travis Peterson and Jimmy Baron in a 93-75 rout of Partizan NIS Belgrade to improve to 4-3, advanced as did ALBA Berlin despite falling 84-89 at the hands of undefeated group leader Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. Baron made 5 of 9 three pointers for 22 points and Peterson finished with 21 for Rytas. Lokomotiv’s three-point shooting clinic was too much for ALBA as it matched a club record with 15 triples to stay perfect at 7-0. ALBA dropped to 5-2 but nonetheless advanced, Ryan Broekhoff, with a 7DAYS EuroCup career-high 20 points, and Pavel Antipov, with 15, led the Lokomotiv three-point assault with 5 shots each from the arc. And Limoges boosted its Top 16 hopes by winning at home and raising its record to 3-4. Josh Carter nailed 3 three-pointers in leading Limoges with 16 points while William Howard was on target four times from outside for 14 points.

GROUP D

Dolomiti Energia Trento started things off with a 103-81 rout of Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday at PalaTrento. Trento set club records for points scored, margin of victory and free throws attempted (31) in improving to 3-4 in the group and taking the head-to-head tiebreaker from Zenit, which fell to 4-3 and now shares first place with ASVEL Villeurbanne, Herbalife Gran Canaria and Tofas Bursa. Shavon Shields scored 10 points in a 17-0 start that set the stage for a blowout and the hosts used an 11-0 second-quarter run to take the margin to 30 en route to a 54-28 halftime lead, from which Zenit could not recover. Shields finished with a personal best 23 points plus 8 rebounds. On Wednesday, ASVEL put together a historic three-point shooting performance in grabbing an 84-94 victory at ratiopharm Ulm. John Roberson nailed a team record 8 three-pointers in scoring 25 points for ASVEL, which knocked down 19 of 32 three-pointers – the second most in EuroCup history behind only UNICS Kazan’s 20 threes in November 2009. ASVEL’s previous individual club record was 6 by Edwin Jackson in October 2013 against Ulm. AJ Slaughter added 5 three-pointers of his own for 22 points as ASVEL improved to 4-3. Ulm dropped to 2-5. And Gran Canaria floored visiting Tofas 92-71. Gran Canaria holds tiebreak advantages, however over Tofas and Zenit. The hosts used a 22-3 first-half run to turn around the scoreboard and a 10-0 burst late in the third to put the game out of reach at 69-50. Gran Canaria more than doubled Tofas in assists (26 to 10), rebounds (33 to 15) and PIR (121 to 49). Marcus Eriksson made 5 of 8 threes en route to 22 points for the winners.