Round 9 proved to be a watershed moment in Top 16 qualifying in Groups A and D; Fiat Turin and Cedevita Zagreb snatched up the last two remaining spots from the former group and ASVEL Villeurbanne, Dolomiti Energia Trento and Herbalife Gran Canaria punched their tickets from the latter group. Only two teams were eliminated, which means Round 10 will see four teams fight for three open Top 16 berths from Group B and two teams will square off for the last remaining spot from Group D.
At the end of the night on Wednesday, all four Top 16 spots from Group A were booked. UNICS Kazan used a great defensive performance to beat Cedevita Zagreb 78-61. The home team limited the visitors to 9 points in both the first and fourth quarters to improve to 6-3 and the brink of clinching second place in Group A. Stephane Lasme shined for the winners with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Quino Colom tallied 16 points and 6 assists. Cedevita dropped to 4-5, but got help later in the night. FIAT Turin handed Darussafaka Istanbul its second loss of the season 75-77. The visitors led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but Darussafaka came back and made it a close ending. Diante Garrett led the winners with 22 points and Lamar Patterson added 20 for Fiat which improved to 5-4 record and can still finish second if it beats UNICS by more than 8 points next week. Darussafaka, playing without the EuroCup’s top scorer Scottie Wilbekin, saw Will Cummings lead the way with 22 points. Both Fiat and Cedevita were not sure of the Top 16 qualification until previously-eliminated Levallois Metropolitans defeated MoraBanc Andorra 99-92 later on Wednesday. Levallois finished its home season with a win, and eliminated Andorra in the process. Roderick Odom paced five Levallois players with 18 points while Boris Diaw had a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists. Levallois finishes its season at Cedevita, which can still be third with a win and a loss by Fiat, while Andorra will say farewell to its EuroCup debut at home against Darussafaka.
Things in Group B got quite complicated before the final round. It started Tuesday when Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul went on the road to defeat Lietkabelis Panevezys 77-84. Galatasaray improved to 4-5 with its third consecutive victory and just as importantly gained the tiebreaker advantage over Lietkabelis after losing their game in Istanbul by 5 points. Goksenin Koksal hit 5 three-pointers in scoring 17 points and Richard Hendrix had 13 points and 7 rebounds for the victors. Lietkabelis dropped to 4-5 and missed a chance to qualify for the Top 16 despite Ksistof Lavrinovic collecting 24 points and 7 rebounds. Also on Tuesday, first-place FC Bayern Munich kept its unbeaten record alive by holding off a resilient and stubborn Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 85-82. Bayern never trailed after the first quarter, but Buducnost had several possessions down the stretch, including the final minute, to tie the game. Devin Booker and Jared Cunningham scored 15 points apiece for the winners, while Nikola Ivanovic had a career-high 27 points and 6 rebounds for Buducnost. Nemanja Gordic at one point strung together 16 consecutive fourth-quarter points for the visitors and finished with 22 points and 7 assists. On Wednesday, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia topped Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem on the road 66-79, not only remaining in the hunt for a spot in the Top 16, but preventing anybody else from qualifying, too. Chris Wright collected 19 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals as Reggio Emilia improved to 4-5 despite leading scorer Amedeo Della Valle missing the game. Jalen Reynolds collected 13 points and 11 rebounds for Reggio Emilia, which allowed just 6 points in the final 10 minutes. Jerusalem dropped to 2-7 and was eliminated from Top 16 contention despite a career high 27 points from Jerome Dyson.
Group C action started on Tuesday as Limoges CSP rallied to edge Partizan NIS Belgrade 98-101 on the road. Kenny Hayes hit 4 three-pointers in scoring 22 points and Josh Carter nailed 5 threes for 17 points for Limoges which improved to 5-4. Both players hit a triple apiece down the stretch to put Limoges up for good. Axel Bouteille scored 21 in victory, while Nigel Williams-Goss set career-highs with 28 points, 11 assists and 3 steals for 1-8 Partizan. On Wednesday, Lietuvos Rytas put Group C’s second place in play by outgunning ALBA 94-73 as Travis Peterson scored 21 points and Ben Magden 19. Rytas, ALBA and Limoges CSP all have 5-4 records now and all three were qualified previously to the Top 16. The 21-point difference gave the hosts a tie-break advantage over ALBA, so when it travels next week to play Limoges, Rytas can take second place with a victory. Against ALBA, Rytas had 26 assists, tying the second-most in the club’s long EuroCup history, as six different players dished 3 or more. Group C winner Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar took another win to stay undefeated, this time 69-61 at already-eliminated RETAbet Bilbao Basket. The hosts stood strong for most of three quarters, but when the Loko offense started flowing, there was nothing they could do. Chris Babb led the winners with 21 points.
Just about anything could have happened in Group D in Round 9, but in the end three teams – ASVEl Villeurbanne, Dolomiti Energia Trento and Herbalife Gran Canaria – qualified for the Top 16 before the final round of the regular season. ASVEL became the first team to secure a Top 16 place from this group by downing visiting Tofas Bursa 84-74 on Wednesday night. ASVEL improved to 6-4, while Tofas dropped to 4-5. The teams were tied early in the fourth quarter, but David Lighty, Charles Kahudi and John Roberson came up with big plays down the stretch to lift ASVEL to victory. Lighty led the way with 15 points and 7 assists, while Roberson scored 10 of his 14 points in the final 2:11. Some half hour later, Trento held off visiting Gran Canaria 79-76 in an outcome that qualified both teams. Trento needed a victory to move to the next stage, and Gran Canaria could afford a loss by fewer than 25 points to qualify. Both teams now own 5-4 records with a game to play. Jorge Gutierrez led Trento with 18 points, 4 assists and 4 steals, while Dominique Sutton collected 15 points plus 10 rebounds; both players made key baskets down the stretch to help Trento to a crucial win. Tofas is left to play a do-or-die Round 10 game against Zenit St. Petersburg, which led from start to finish before it held off ratiopharm Ulm 90-78 on Tuesday. Marko Simonovic scored all of his 21 points in the second half on 6-of-9 three-point shooting. Sergey Karasev finished with 17 points as Zenit improved to 5-4 record. Ulm dropped to 2-7 and was eliminated from Top 16 contention.