Eurocup: Regular Season wraps

The final four Eurocup Regular Season qualification spots to the Last 32 were wrapped up on Wednesday as the first group phase came to a close in Round 10. There were five Last 32 berths available from the 24 allocated at the start of the season (the remaining 8 are made up of falling Euroleague clubs) and yesterday Ratiopharm Ulm positioned itself in the next round. That left four places to be booked on Wednesday and ALBA Berlin, Union Olimpija Ljubljana, PAOK Thessaloniki, and Hapoel Jerusalem were the clubs that completed the Last 32 from the Eurocup side of the equation.

Eurocup

Group A
Union Olimpija Ljubljana edged already qualified EWE Baskets Oldenburg 75-77 on the road to slip into the Last 32 and end its Eurocup Regular Season on a high. The victory allowed Union Olimpija to leapfrog Oldenburg for sole possession of third place (5-5), while the German hosts slipped to fourth (4-6).

Despite it being nervy at the close, the visitors were actually comfortable for large spells of this contest, winning the first quarter 15-22 and then the second 15-23 for a commanding 30-45 advantage at the midway buzzer. Cruising and on course Ljubljana let EWE Baskets Oldenburg back into the game as the hosts woke up and plundered 26 points in the third act to slash the deficit to 56-64 through thirty minutes. The momentum continued to swing to the Germans, but a rally that seemed destined to claim an unlikely win was halted as Sasa Zagorac went to the charity strip and drained two winning free throws.

Zagorac topped the scoring with 23 points for Union Olimpija and was followed by Sava Lesic with 18 points and Zach Wright with 14 points.

Brian Qvale led the losing effort with 17 points, while Dennis Kramer hit 16 points and Vaughn Duggins provided 14 points. Ricky Paulding and Dominic Lockhart both supplied 10 points in the loss.

Group B
ALBA Berlin sent its fans wild in the German capital by narrowly nestling into the Eurocup Last 32 with a single point 80-79 over previously eliminated Enel Brindisi. ALBA snapped a worrying four game losing streak in the process and finished fourth in Group B with a 5-5 record, while down and out Brindisi finishes last on 1-9.

However, the Italians were out to spoil the German party despite having nothing more than pride to play for and in the first act Brindisi streamed in 28 points for a 10 point lead. In the second act ALBA responded with a 24-13 blitz that flipped the contest and handed the hosts a one point lead through halftime, 42-41. That would be the deficit at the final buzzer, but on the way the visitors won the third period and held on to lead heading into the closing seconds. However, with the final second on the board Kresimir Loncar stepped up and netted the winning bucket for Berlin.

Jordan Taylor led the winners with 18 points, while Dragan Milosavljevic added 14 points. Loncar was good for 13 points, including that all-important winning grab.

Adrian Banks drove Enel Brindisi with 27 points and 8 rebounds, with Scott Reynolds provided 21 points and Kenneth Kadji 13 points.

Group E
PAOK Thessaloniki traveled to Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and won 81-88 to punch its ticket to the Last 32, a victory that sent the Greek team to third in Group E with a 5-5 record.

A high quality first quarter saw the teams traded baskets until the guests edged the frame 23-25. The single score game meant Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius was in the game and the quality continued in the second quarter as the hosts claimed a 27-20 stanza to lead 50-45 at the long break. The game became tight in the third act, but once again PAOK won the quarter, but through three quarter the Lithuanian home team led 68-64. With its place in the Eurocup on the line Thessaloniki went big in the fourth with a 13-24 run that blew the game open and changed the result.

Sofoklis Schortsanitis topped the Greek club with a double-double of 23 points and 10 boards, while William Hatcher provided 18 points and Kostas Vasileiadis added 17 points.

Ksistof Lavrinovic topped Lietuvos Rytas with 18 points, followed by Adus Juskevicius with 15 points.

Group F
Hapoel Jerusalem also placed its name in the Last 32 hat with a cruising 74-95 road success over already eliminated Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd in Russia. The big win secured fourth place for the Israeli outfit with a 5-5 record.

The guests led throughout, but after ten minutes on the hardwood it was close at 19-23. That was as good as it got for the Krasny as the hosts wilted and allowed Jerusalem to run away with the game, including a 17-28 run in the second quarter. Building on a 36-51 halftime lead, Hapoel Jerusalem conceded the third frame to give the hosts a chance, but then killed the game with a 14-25 winning fourth act.

Fischer D’or topped Jerusalem with 18 points, while Lior Eliyahu added 16 points and 9 rebounds. Josh Duncan provided 15 points and 7 rebounds in the win.

Maks Adam Konate led the losing team with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his own impressive personal display capped by a double-double.

Other talking points from Round 10
Valencia continued its excellent continental form this season with a 97-76 destruction over Spirou Charleroi in Spain. The winningest club in Eurocup history completed the Regular Season undefeated, the only team to manage that feat this season.

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