EuroCup: Quarterfinals set
A full day of action in the EuroCup played out on Wednesday with eight contests. This was Round 6 of the Second Stage, with the Top 16 closing for business and the clubs making it through to the Quarterfinals now decided.
Gran Canaria and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar showed why they were the top teams in Group E with comfortable wins. In Group F, Bayern Munich downed Khimki Moscow Region to lock first place and remain untouched, while Panevezys took out Ratiopharm Ulm in a game for pride. The biggest crunch game of the day saw Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius beat Zenit St. Petersburg to tie the Russian club in Group G. However, Zenit edged through thanks to its own win over Vilnius in week 2.
Elsewhere in Group G, Hapoel Jerusalem took out Nizhny Novgorod to cement its position as the best team in the standings. Also flexing muscles at the top was Valencia, with the Spanish club easing to a road win in Group H to stay unblemished. Finally, Cedevita Zagreb closed its continental season with a win over Unicaja Malaga.
Group E was already decided before this week, and in Round 6 the two best clubs in the group showed why they are heading through to the Quarterfinals. Gran Canaria defeated Fuenlabrada 100-76 at home in an all-Spanish clash. The club finished second on 4-2 after winning four consecutive games to forget a two-game losing streak at the start of the Top 16. This game was tied 47-47 at halftime, but the hosts drained 53 points in a game-winning second half. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar was already ensured first place, but cemented it with a 77-85 road win over Murcia in Spain. The Russians trailed 21-17 after ten minutes, but dropped over 20 points in each of the remaining frames to pull away in the second half.
Already qualified Khimki Moscow Region and Bayern Munich battled in a straight contest for top spot in Group F in the EuroCup. Bayern Munich came away with a big 74-96 win to remain unbeaten with a 6-0 record. The result was in the balance as the game ended through regulation time with the scoreboard locked at 72 points apiece. Khimki collapsed in overtime and managed just 2 points as Bayern surged to victory with 24 points. In a dead rubber, Lietkabelis Panevezys secured an 81-86 road win over Ratiopharm Ulm to finish its EuroCup season on a high. Ben Madgen and Darjus Lavrinovic poured in 20 points each to push the victory.
Hapoel Jerusalem continued its dominance in Group G with a cruising 73-81 away win over Nizhny Novgorod. The Israeli champ was already qualified in first place and finishes with a 5-1 record. Nizhny looked solid on home wood with a 39-36 lead through the long break. However, Jerusalem clicked in the third act and opened a seven-point (51-58) lead by thirty minutes. The guests closed the game in the fourth. Zenit St. Petersburg slipped into the EuroCup Quarterfinals despite an 86-84 loss at the hands of Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in the Lithuanian capital. Both clubs finished on 3-3, but Zenit scraped into the next round thanks to its 88-79 win over Lietuvos Rytas in Round 2. It was the narrowest of aggregate margins, but the Russians could celebrate.
Valencia Basket joined Bayern Munich as the only unbeaten Top 16 clubs after an impressive 73-99 win over ALBA Berlin in the German capital. The Spanish club was consistent at the bucket all night and led 37-47 at halftime. The result was never in doubt in a cruising second half, which saw Valencia score 52 points, with six players finishing in double figures. Unicaja Malaga was also already sitting pretty in the last eight, but the club ended its Top 16 on a low note courtesy of a 74-71 defeat by Cedevita Zagreb. The Croatian club exited the EuroCup in style in a game that ultimately did not matter much.
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