Eurocup: 1/8 Finals Leg 1

EurocupThe 2015/2016 Eurocup campaign has finally reach knockout Basketball, with the Eighthfinals getting underway on Wednesday. There was a full roster of eight contest during the evening, with the two leg ties starting in an exciting fashion. Of course, which clubs progress to the Eurocup Quarterfinals will depend on the second legs, but a few teams put one foot in the next round during the first leg.

For the most part though, margins were small as six of the eight games were decided by 4 points or less, leaving things ideally poised for the return legs. Gran Canaria and Nizhny Novgorod went big at the scoreboards to put their toes in the next round, but will have to stay professional to get the job done next week.

ALBA Berlin vs. Bayern Munich, 82-82
ALBA Berlin played host to Bayern Munich in an all-German clash. There was literally nothing to separate the teams as Bayern can away from the German capital with an 82-82 draw. It is all to play for next week, but Munich will feel the more confident with home court advantage, but nevertheless, expect sparks to fly in Bavaria next week. In a back and forth encounter, ALBA squandered a 9 point cushion in the third act, while Bayern threw away a 7 points lead in the fourth, so it was perhaps fitting that it finished all square.

Limoges CSP vs. Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, 65-82
Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas smashed Limoges CSP 65-82 on the road to take a 17 point cushion into the second leg of the Eurocup Eighthfinals. The Spaniards have a foot in the next round and have been solid at home this season, so French club Limoges has plenty of work to do. Sasu Salin paced the winners with 18 points, D.J. Seeley claimed 16 points, while Brad Newley managed 15 off hot 6-from-6 shooting. The guests has opened an 11-22 lead after ten minutes on the hardwood and rarely looked back to record a road cruise.

Strasbourg vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg, 74-76
EWE Basket Oldenburg drew first blood in its 1/8 clash with Strasbourg, leaving the French city with a slender two point lead. The second leg will be open with Strasbourg never shy on the road, but the French club is now riding a three game losing streak in the Eurocup. The visitors led for long periods of the game and led by 9 points through thirty minutes on the floor, before Strasbourg plundered 10 unanswered points to make it tight down the stretch. Oldenburg held on at the wire to take that advantage back to Germany.

Banvit Bandirma vs. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, 69-72
EA7 Armani Milan edged Banvit Bandirma in Turkey to head back to Italy just needing to win next week to progress. The Euroleague dropout is a different proposition at home and Banvit will have to contend with an offensive minded Milan next week if it is to turn around the deficit. The Italians were made to work hard for the win and it could have gone either way as the lead was traded no fewer than six times in the fourth act alone. Rakim Sanders topped the winning effort with 19 points and 4 steals.

CAI Zaragoza vs. Dolomiti Energia Trento, 85-83
Zaragoza hung on at home to see off Trento with a two point advantage. Both teams will be relatively happy with the evening’s Basketball, with Zaragoza holding the advantage, but Trento close enough to attack that deficit in Italy next week. The guests had led by double digits through the opening frame (18-28), but the hosts fought back to make it 44-45 through the long break. From there the teams traded buckets and the lead until Joan Sastre drained from beyond the arc to shut the game out for Zaragoza.

Nizhny Novgorod vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, 102-76
This all-Russian contest was expected to be tight, but instead Nizhny Novgorod turned on the style and blitzed Zenit to all but assure a place in the quarter-final. The Novgorod outfit leads by 26 points heading to St. Petersburg, leaving Zenit needing a near perfect offensive and defensive display in Russia’s second city. A 19-2 run fuelled a 27-12 lead through ten minutes and the hosts simply controlled the pace from there, extending comfortably from there, led by Victor Rudd with 28 points and Ivan Strebkov with 21 points.

Stelmet Zielona Gora vs. Unics Kazan, 68-72
Unics Kazan, doing so well in the VTB United League, is also on course in the Eurocup after beating Stelmet Zielona Gora on the road in leg 1. The four point victory is solid enough for the club to build on when it gets the Polish team back to Kazan next week. The hosts look comfortable early on, leading 35-30 at halftime. Unics soon clicked in the second half as Quino Colom and Keith Langford turned the offensive screw and put the guests in front for good. Colom doubled up with 17 points and 11 assists, while Langford was good for 19 points.

Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir vs. Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul, 67-64
The third all-nation derby of the round saw Turkish clubs Karsiyaka and Galatasaray square off in a ferocious clash. The current TBL champs, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir took the spoils with a three point lead that means the tie is perfectly poised for an Istanbul return. It is still anybody’s tie, but Pinar Izmir will look to avoid a collapse like this contest, with Galatasaray using a 2-14 run to make it closer than it should have been in the fourth quarter.

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