Eurocup: torrent of clubs reach Last 32

EurocupThe floodgates opened on the Last 32 in the Eurocup as numerous clubs punched their tickets to the next phase of the competition during Round 9 of the Regular Season. There was celebration aplenty on Wednesday, but next week still raises an eyebrow, especially with six qualification places still up for grabs.

Group A
EWE Baskets Oldenburg moved into the Last 32 on Thursday after defeating Nanterre 83-92 on Wednesday, with the Germans progressing thanks to results this evening. Vaughan Duggins paced the winning effort with 22 points, while the visitors swept Nanterre through the Regular Season. Nanterre needs a win next week to have any chance of making the Last 32.

Dolomiti Energia Trento edged Telekom Baskets Bonn 98-96 to send Oldenburg through, the already qualified Italians finishing with a 7-2 record while Bonn slipped to 2-7 and was already eliminated. Trento drained 11-for-25 from long range and had six scorers in double figures in a well-rounded attack, which was needed to stem a Bonn team led by Jimmy McKinney with 29 points.

Dominion Bilbao Basket eased to a 63-84 road win over Union Olimpija Ljubljana to leave the Spanish with a five from five win streak away from home in the Eurocup this season. Bilbao had already punched its ticket for the Last 32, while Union Olimpija is now left to fight with Nanterre for the remaining qualification place in Group A.

Group B
Gran Canaria Las Palmas took out ALBA Berlin 83-78 at home in one of the picks of Round 9 games. The Spanish club (runner-up in the Eurocup last season) had already qualified, but dealt a blow to German club ALBA Berlin, who have struggled in the competition this term and will need a win next week to guarantee a Last 32 berth.

RIESEN Ludwigsburg took out Enel Brindisi with a 60-87 away win in Italy in a contest that was a dead rubber as Ludwigsburg have already qualified and Enel Brindisi are already eliminated. Jason Boone led the winners with 16 points in a game where the German visitors controlled the hardwood throughout.

Reggio Emilia made the Last 32 with a comfortable 71-87 road success over Le Mans, although despite losing the French hosts can still qualify mathematically in the final round next week. Reggio Emilia looked slick in offence, the Italians scoring 49 points in the second half to overwhelm Le Mans.

Group C
Valencia look untouchable at the moment and edged to a 59-62 road win over Umana Reyer Venice to remain unbeaten, the only Eurocup club this campaign with an unblemished record. Both teams were already assured of a Last 32 position before the game started.

That was because SLUC Nancy took out Proximus Spirou Charleroi 81-86 on Tuesday away from home. The French club is down and out, but won its first game in four attempts. As for Charleroi, the Belgians can still progress next week but saw its three game winning streak snapped and now needs favours from other results in a week’s time.

CAI Zaragoza celebrated reaching the Last 32 with an 81-84 road win over Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany. Sek Henry drained from downtown at the buzzer to seal the win and he led the winning team with 21 points. Ulm now looks to next week in its quest for qualification.

Group D
Group D is shut with all qualification places dealt with on a busy Wednesday. Unics Kazan swamped Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 91-77 in Russia to seal its position in the next round and ended Buducnost’s Eurocup run for this season. Quino Colom stood out for Unics with just the seventh triple double in tournament history, 15 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists and 6 steals.

Aris Thessaloniki defeated Steaua CSM EximBank Bucharest 67-77 in a comfortable away win that allowed the Greek’s to celebrate the pre-contest news that they had qualified. Aris led from the opening tip off to the closing buzzer in a victory that pushed the club to the top of the standings with a 6-3 record.

In an all-Turkish clash, Banvit Bandirma outlasted Trabzonspor Medical Park 71-67 to also make its way into the Last 32. As it was, Trabzonspor could ride the loss as the club also made it through to the next round. This was a fantastic game of hoops and down the stretch the lead changed eight times as both clubs went for it.

Group E
Zenit St. Petersburg downed Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 92-84 to move to 8-1 in Group E and secure first place in the standings after already booking qualification. Lietuvos Rytas will see an opportunity missed as the club led 61-67 through thirty minutes. A huge fourth by Zenit gave the hosts victory and sent the Lithuanian visitors crashing out.

Szolnoki Olaj destroyed Beziktas Sompo Japan Istanbul 85-67 at home to dance into the Last 32, and in the process left Besiktas with work to do next week. The Turkish club needs PAOK Thessaloniki to lose next week and it beat in form Zenit to progress.

PAOK enhanced its chances with a huge 104-99 home win over Avtodor Saratov. Russian club Avtodor had already qualified but still went for this and delivered a stunning game, but PAOK rose to the challenge with an excellent offensive game. The hosts relied on heavy scoring from Kostas Vasileiadis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who led the winners with 27 points apiece.

Group F
Neptunas Klaipeda hold off Nizhny Novgorod 82-75 and moved into the next phase with a sweep over the Russian visitors. Interestingly, Neptunas led from the first frame, but could not shut the game down until the final minute of the contest as Nizhny stayed dangerous throughout.

Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem edged AEK Athens 82-78 in a must win game to remain in the chase to the Last 32. These two clubs hold 4-5 records and can still qualify, but Nizhny holds the advantage with a 5-4 record. Nevertheless next week will be interesting in Group F.

Galatasaray Istanbul cemented its position at the top of the standings with a crushing 103-76 win over Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd in Turkey. If anything, the contest showed why Galatasaray is cruising at the top of Group F and whole Krasny is stranded at the bottom of the standings.

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