Round 1 of the 2015/2016 Eurocup Last 32 has been completed and while there is a way to go in groups G through N, we still learned plenty. This was the first time we saw the Euroleague dropouts of course, while some Eurocup favorites were also in action again, starting the road on the Eurocup Last 32 with plenty of exciting action.
Bilbao Basket had far too much quality in the paint for home team Ratiopharm Ulm and recorded a cruising 75-93 road win in Germany. Clevin Hannah scored 20 points and Alex Ruoff 19 points in the win as Bilbao led for much of the game and turned a three point halftime advantage into an easy victory by offloading 49 points in the second half.
Bayern Munich made its Eurocup debut this season after dropping from the Euroleague and duly recorded an 83-85 away win over Turkish outfit Banvit Bandirma. Bayern stayed consistent at the buckets to stay one step ahead of the hosts, although Bandirma did make it interesting through spirited second half after the Munich contingent had eased into a sizeable advantage at the long break.
Avtodor Saratov broke a century of points to open its Eurocup Last 32 campaign with a win. It was a haul that was needed as the Russians were pushed all the way by Hapoel Jerusalem, the game ending 105-96 in Saratov. Travis Peterson was the standout for Avtodor with a double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Donta Smith logged 29 points for the losing effort.
After slumping out of the Euroleague, Strasbourg returned to the Eurocup and took out last season’s runner up Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas 76-85 on the road. Leading by five at halftime, Strasbourg killed the contest with an excellent 15-25 run in the third act, with Mardy Collins leading the victory with 21 points.
Valencia continued to roll with a comfortable 78-62 home win over PAOK Thessaloniki in Spain, meaning the club is still unbeaten. That unblemished record is the only one in the Eurocup this season and the winningest team in the history of the competition looks a dangerous prospect this term. Valencia barely had to get out of second gear, with only two players topping double digits for the hosts.
Aris Thessaloniki fared better than their city rivals as they demolished Neptunas Klaipeda 84-58 in Greece to start its Eurocup Last 32 season in style. The contest was largely decided in the first quarter as the hosts plundered 25 points and Klaipeda offered a woeful 5 points. Okaro White nailed 19 points in the win.
EA7 Milan had a torrid Euroleague Regular Season and the Italians’ continental troubles continued in the Eurocup as the club lost 83-67 in the German capital to ALBA Berlin. There was a single point in it at halftime, but ALBA tore into Milan in the second half, recording a 19-12 third act and a game winning 23-15 fourth quarter.
A big 81-68 win for Pinar Izmir Karsiyaka settled a Turkish derby against Trabzonspor Medical Park, the hosts winning the game and pride. 47 points in the first half gave the Turkish champs a big 14 points lead and they simply never looked back. Bracey Wright topped the winning effort with an impressive 23 point game.
Dolomito Energia Trento continued to impress in the Eurocup this season with an 82-63 home win over Reggio Emilia in an all-Italian contest. Group K is a group of derbies and Trento seized the opportunity thanks to 16 points from Jamar Sanders and 15 points from Trent Lockett. The hosts used a 22-9 first quarter to pace the victory.
A tight Group L contest saw Zenit St. Petersburg edge Umana Reyer Venice 84-86 on the road, allowing the Russians to continue their impressive Regular Season form. It was a tight game throughout, but perhaps fittingly Zenit held control of the scoreboard at the end of every quarter. Ryan Toolson topped the winners with 19 points, but was outdone by Venice’s Mike Green who led the players with 29 points.
An all-Russian affair saw Unics Kazan take out Nizhny Novgorod 84-74 in front of its own support. The hosts hit 23 points in the opening two frames and held a 46-31 advantage at the long break, before weathering a Nizhny rally in the third and closing the game out in the final act. An offensive school from Quino Colom produced a double-double of 25 points and 12 assists.
There’s plenty to get used to seeing Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Eurocup, after-all the Israeli heavyweight is a fixture in the Euroleague latter stages and won the competition in 2014. However, Tel Aviv opened its Eurocup campaign with an 82-73 win over Union Olimpija Ljubljana, signaling its intentions to be one of the contenders for this competition.
Galatasaray was a team to watch in the Regular Season and the Istanbul club sent a message here with a crushing 103-68 win over CAI Zaragoza in Turkey. Sinan Guler led the attacking play with 25 points as Galatasaray 61 points over the second and third quarters, blitzing Zaragoza in the process.