The semifinals of the FIBA Europe Cup tipped off for round one action on Wednesday as we look ahead to a two-legged format with aggregate scores deciding the winners. In the first leg, Umana Reyer Venezia and Sidigas Avellino claimed home wins to set up the prospect of an all-Italian final in the FIBA Europe Cup.
Umana Reyer Venezia took a big step towards the final with a solid 82-72 home win over Donar Groningen. The win means the Italian club has a double-digit lead to protect when it travels to the Netherlands next week. In this game, the hosts controlled the first quarter and opened a 28-21 lead. Donar suggested it would be a close game with a 14-22 second act that made it 42-43 at halftime. However, Venezia pulled away in the second half, taking the third act 24-14 and edging the fourth to secure the win.
Elsewhere, fellow Italian club Sidigas Avellino also picked up a home win, taking out the Bakken Bears 75-72. However, Avellino has more to do next week as Bakken will fancy its chances of reducing that three-point gap in Denmark. Still, the prospect of an all-Italian FIBA Europe Cup final is a real possibility. The game was close throughout, although the hosts were ahead 37-31 through the long break. The Bears fought back in the second half, but Avellino held firm in the last quarter to wrap the victory.