Eurocup group stage, Round 4 recap

EurocupThe Eurocup season kicked up another gear this week with some fascinating games around the continent. Approaching the midway stage of the Group stage, the standings are taking shape and some clubs are already positioning themselves to progress to the next round.

Group A
Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-2) hosted newcomer Dolomiti Energia Trento (3-1), but slipped to an 89-96 loss to the Italians. The victory was enough to give Trento sole possession of top spot in Group A and the visitors put together a high octane offensive display to grab the win. Julian Wright paced the win with 21 points, while Trent Lockett added 20 points and Davide Pascolo grabbed 18 points and 8 rebounds.

EWE Baskets Bamberg (1-3) enjoyed home comforts in Germany to defeat JSF Nanterre (2-2) 84-81. It was the first victory of the 2014/2015 Eurocup for Bamberg and it was a timely win that gets the club back in the hunt, while Nanterre remains in the chasing pack behind Bonn. After trailing 40-43 at halftime, EWE Baskets put on a big 26-15 third act and never looked back to close out the win.

Union Olimpija Ljubljana (2-2) made the tricky trip to Bilbao (2-2) and came away with an 80-83 win that breathed new life into the club’s campaign. Both clubs now join the four teams sitting behind Telekom Bonn with 2-2 records. An 18-27 run in the second stanza handed Union Olimpija the initiative through halftime, and the guests held on in a second half that saw the Spanish hosts pile on the pressure in the fourth frame.

Group B
Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia vs. Le Mans Sarthe Basket, 93-82 – READ REPORT

MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg vs. Enel Basket Brindisi, 84-80 – READ REPORT

ALBA Berlin (3-1) dug deep to take out Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (3-1) 84-71 in the German capital, handing the Spanish guests their first loss of the Eurocup season in the process. ALBA had trailed by as much as 16 points in the first half and the visitors were cruising. However, the hosts hit a sweet spot at both ends of the court in the third quarter, using a 25-7 winning period to secure the momentum, which was carried to the final buzzer.

Group C
CAI Zaragoza (3-1) moved into sole possession of second place in Group B behind compatriot Valencia with a hard fought 69-59 home win over Ratiopharm Ulm (2-2). The game was tight at 37-36 through the long break, but Zaragoza kept extending its advantage during a low scoring second half and in the end eased down the stretch. Joan Sastre Morro topped the winning effort with 16 points.

Valencia vs. Umana Reyer Venice, 88-59 – READ REPORT

SLUC Nancy (1-3) and Spirou Charleoi met in a contest between two teams without a win in Group C, but it was French hosts Nancy who opened their Eurocup account with a 67-63 win. Trailing 31-33 during the long break, the hosts rallied in the third quarter with a 24-13 charge and managed to hold off a Spirou comeback in the final act.

Group D
An all-Turkish contest saw Trabzonspor Medical Park (3-1) outgun Banvit Bandirma (1-3) 96-88 in an exciting game to move to 3-1 in Group D. Andrija Stipanovic paced the winners with 18 points and Tarence Kinsey added 17 points in victory. However, the hosts were behind 62-71 in the fourth, but Dwight Hardy drained three consecutive shots from behind the arc to fuel a 15-0 run that won the game.

Aris Thessaloniki (3-1) got back on track to beat Steaua CSM EximBank Bucharest (1-3) 70-66 and join Trabzonspor on 3-1 in the standings. The game went right to the wire, but with 13 seconds left on the regulation clock, Okaro White streamed from downtown to secure the win. White topped the winners with 15 points and his tripe capped a stunning comeback as Thessaloniki had trailed 25-42 at halftime.

Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (2-2) beat Unics Kazan (2-2) 73-63 to lock with the Russians in the standings. Unics Kazan started the season well, but the form has crumbled and this was a second consecutive defeat for the club, while Buducnost got back on track with this win. After claiming a 37-32 lead at halftime, the hosts never looked back and led throughout the second half.

Group E
Zenit St. Petersburg (4-0) held off Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (1-3) 65-70 with a gutsy road display that kept the Russian club top of Group E with an unblemished record. A huge first half gave Zenit a strong platform, with the visitors leading 23-45 during the midway rest. Lietuvos Rytas stormed back in the third frame with a 23-10 run, and the hosts continued to rally in the fourth to make Zenit sweat in the closing seconds.

Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (3-1) beat Szolnoki Olaj (0-4) 76-67 to leave Olag winless at the foot of the Group E standings. The Turkish hosts looked strong throughout, keeping their opponents at arm’s length throughout, while Nate Wolters topped the Besiktas attack with 15 points and 7 assists and Erik Murphy added 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Avtodor Saratov (3-1) joined Besiktas on 3-1 with a home demolition of PAOK Thessaloniki (1-3) 90-68, a game that saw the Russians dominate throughout. It was an impressive display of distance shooting from Saratov that saw them get in front, with the triples handing the hosts the lead for good in the first half. Travis Peterson led the winners with 23 points, including 5 of 7 from downtown.

Group F
Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (4-0) beat Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-3) 72-88 on the road in Russia to stay atop Group F with an untouched winning record. Volgograd, now under the stewardship of Dirk Bauermann now sit at the bottom of the group and were taken care of with ease during this contest. The game was tight in the first half, but the Turkish visitors pulled away for good with a 0-11 run in the third act.

Neptunas Klaipeda (2-2) edged Nizhny Novgorod (2-2) 78-82 on the road to join the Russians in the chasing pack in Group F, both behind runaway leaders Galatasaray. Nizhny looked in control at the start with a 65-49 lead, but Neptunas hit back with 16 consecutive points to tie the contest 65 apiece with minutes to play. The games traded buckets until Arnas Butkevicius and Arvydas Siksnius hit from the charity line to seal the win.

AEK Athens (2-2) produced a comeback 75-74 win over Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (1-3) in the closest game of Wednesday’s Eurocup action. Jerusalem had led by 17 points at halftime and looked to be cruising to a second win of the season. Instead AEK Athens used an 11-0 run in the third act to get back into the game and then Chris Warren was on hand with a free throw to settle it late on.

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