Eurocup, Limoges downs Valencia again

2015/2016 EurocupWe are now into the business end of the 2015/2016 Eurocup Last 32 stage and return fixtures are now being played this week. Four contests opened the week’s action on Tuesday, and as always Europe’s second tier competition brought the excitement to the hardwood.

The story of the night was in France, where Limoges pulled apart Valencia for the second consecutive week in Group I, giving EWE Baskets Oldenburg the chance to go top after defeating PAOK Thessaloniki. In Group J Milan edged past Neptunas Klaipeda by a single point, while in Group M Nizhny Novgorod has too much for Union Olimpija Ljubljana on home hardwood.

Group I
Limoges vs. Valencia, 82-67
Valencia’s superb form in the 2015/2016 Eurocup (12 consecutive wins) has come to a shuddering halt, and it has all been at the hands of Limoges. The French club tore into the Spanish team (Valencia remains unbeaten in domestic competition) for the second week in succession. Now the Valencia team looks mortal and while still among the favorites for the title, the procession to be crowned 2015/2016 Eurocup champ is off and Valencia now appears just another of the title favorites.

Limoges dominate large spells to join Valencia in a tie for second place in Group I, both clubs on 2-2. The hosts won the second quarter 21-9 to ensure a 39-32 halftime lead and in the second half seemed to feed off a dejected Valencia to pull away from the visitors.

Bo McCallebb topped the winners with 15 points, while Leo Westermann and Nobel Boungou-Colo logged 11 points apiece.

Rafa Martinez grabbed a game high 17 points for a shocked Valencia, followed by Antoine Diot with 15 points.

EWE Baskets Oldenburg vs. PAOK Thessaloniki, 83-71
Valencia’s continued continental slump was good news for EWE Baskets Oldenburg as the Germans completed a double over PAOK to go top of the standings (3-1). The game started hot, with both teams trading buckets for a 24-24 score through the first break. The hosts kept the scoring form in the second with another 24 points, while Thessaloniki slipped to trail 48-39 through the long break. EWE Baskets raced ahead with an impressive 26-10 run in the third act, and then eased down the straight in the fourth.

Chris Kramer stood out with 23 points in victory, while Rickey Paulding, Nemanja Aleksandrov, and Vaughn Duggins all grabbed 12 points.

Uros Duvnjak and Nikola Markovic paced the defeated team with 11 points each, while Markovic added 8 rebounds to the cause.

Group J
Neptunas Klaipeda vs. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, 73-74
Milan made its four consecutive wins, but was made to work hard on the road in Lithuania and left Klaipeda with a one point winning margin. The guests had opened a 10 points lead at halftime, with the scoreboard reading 36-26, before extending to 52-64 through three frames. In the deciding stanza Neptunas rallied back and it went to the closing seconds until Jamel McLean’s 50% from the charity strip was enough to edge it for Milan.

Krunoslav Simon topped the Italians with 15 points, while McLean added 14 points including the winning net. Milan Macvan found the bucket for 13 points.

Dontas Zavackas was the leading scorer with 17 points for the hosts, followed by Martynas Mazeika with 13 points.

Group M
Nizhny Novgorod vs. Union Olimpija Ljubljana, 81-74
Nizhny Novgorod got itself back into contention in Group M with a home win over Olimpija Ljubljana, the Russian hosts moving to 2-2 in the standings. The hosts got off to a roaring start and led 30-18 through 10 minutes, before holding on to lead 45-38 heading into the locker room at the midway buzzer. In the second half Nizhny stayed professional and never let Union Olimpija have enough space to really get within striking distance of causing an upset.

Victor Rudd was formidable in the win, combining 28 points and with 7 boards. Semen Antonov added 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Rasid Mahalbasic scored 14 points.

Sasa Zagorac topped Ljubljana with 18 points, with Sava Lesic following with 14 points.

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