Regular Season, Round 8: Line for Last 32 starts here!
Four teams advanced prior to Round 8, but the number of qualifiers to the Last 32 can almost quadruple this week when as many as 11 teams have a chance to clinch their tickets, too. The action starts on Tuesday with three games, while the remaining 15 is scheduled for Wednesday.
On Tuesday, JSF Nanterre (3-4) hosts Dolomiti Energia Trento (5-2). While this is a must-win clash for the hosts, Trento would not only sweep Nanterre with a victory, but also get a three-win cushion ahead of it, enough to keep the group lead and secure a place in the Last 32. The same will be true on Wednesday when Dominion Bilbao Basket (5-2) plays at home against EWE Baskets Oldenburg (3-4). Bilbao enters this contest on a three-victory streak, and will stay in first place and qualify for the Last 32 with another. Oldenburg had won three in a row before losing last week to Trento and needs to get back to its winning ways. Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-5) welcomes Union Olimpija Ljubljana (3-4) in a pivotal game for both teams. Bonn won their Round 3 clash 77-82 on the road, and another win help it a lot in the Last 32 race. Olimpija has lost its last three games on German soil, where it has not won since 2009.
In a classic Eurocup matchup, ALBA Berlin (4-3) hosts Le Mans Sarthe Basket (2-5) knowing a win would send it to the Last 32. Earlier in the season ALBA had a four-game winning streak during which it beat Le Mans on the road 84-88, but the German side has dropped its last two games. Le Mans looks to build on its recent performances, especially on the defensive end, where they allow only 67.7 points in the last three games. Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (4-3) welcomes MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (5-2). Both teams can qualify to the Last 32 after this game. Reggio Emilia needs a win and a loss by Le Mans, while Ludwigsburg goes through with either a win or a Le Mans defeat. Enel Basket Brindisi (1-6) hopes to avoid elimination at home against the already-qualified Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (5-2). Brindisi needs to win out, and get a lot of help from other results to have any chance at the next round. Gran Canaria, last year runner-up, won their Round 3 game 103-76 and looks for a sweep as it aims to finish first in the group.
CAI Zaragoza (4-3) hosts SLUC Nancy (1-6) as both teams hope to snap their respective losing streaks. Nancy scores a league-low 68.7 points per game and has three losses in a row. A fourth consecutively would all but end its Last 32 hopes. Meanwhile, CAI takes the best care of the ball, committing a league-low 10.4 turnovers, and would qualify for the Last 32 with a victory and a loss by Proximus Spirou Charleroi (2-5) and Round 7 co-MVP Billy Baron, who play at home against Umana Reyer Venice (4-3). Spirou is keen on continuing its two-game winning streak, but goes against a highly-motivated Venice side which will advance with a victory. Venice will rely on its sharpshooter Michael Bramos who has averaged 4.7 triples over the last three games. Unbeaten group leader Valencia Basket (7-0) is at home against ratiopharm Ulm (3-4). Valencia allows league-low 66.7 points per game, and can clinch the first place with a win or a loss by Venice. For Ulm, a victory combined with a loss by Spirou and a loss by Nancy would send it forward to the next phase.
In a high-profile showdown, Aris Thessaloniki (4-3) hosts Unics Kazan (5-2). The first clash between two sides this season went into overtime, and Aris prevailed on the road 73-74. Aris is 3-0 at home this season, but Unics arrives knowing it can clinch a Last 32 berth with a victory. Banvit Banidrma (3-4) looks to get back to the winning ways at home against Steaua CSM Eximbank Bucharest (2-5). It’s a must-win game for both teams. A victory would boost the Last 32 chances for Banvit, the competition's best offensive rebounding team at 15.4 per game, while the same result for Steaua would keep its hopes to advace alive. Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (3-4) aims to stay unbeaten at home when Trabzonspor Medical Park (4-3) pays a visit. Buducnost is 3-0 in Podgorica this season, and has won each of those games by a double-digit margin. It will be important for the Montenegrin champs to continue that streak against Trabzonspor, which won their Round 3 game 75-71. Trabzonspor has yet to win on the road in Eurocup, but if it does so in Podgorica, and Banvit beats Steaua, it would qualify for the Last 32.
Looking for a victory that would earn it a spot in the Last 32, Avtodor Saratov (5-2) and Round 7 co-MVP Paul Stoll welcome Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (2-5). The hosts have the highest-scoring offense (90.7) and have won five of their last six games with an average margin of 15.8 points. During that streak, they beat Rytas in Vilnius 81-97 as eight Avtodor players scored in double figures. Meanwhile, Rytas has two road wins in three games this season and forces a Eurocup-high 18.6 turnovers per contest. Already-qualified group leader Zenit St. Petersburg (6-1) hosts red-hot Szolnoki Olaj (3-4). The Hungarian champs are on a three-game winning streak, and a fourth would put them on the verge of a historic success and a place in the Last 32. But Zenit and three-point marksman Ryan Toolson, who averages 4.25 triples per game, aim for a victory that would help them clinch first place in the group. In a pivotal matchup for both teams, Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (3-4) welcomes PAOK Thessaloniki (2-5). The visitors have dropped five of their last six games, while Besiktas has allowed a league-worst 92.7 points in the last three weeks. However, Besiktas aims for a performance similar to the one in Round 3, when it beat PAOK on the road 80-100.
On Tuesday, in a must-win game for the hosts, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (2-5) welcomes already-qualified Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (6-1). Jerusalem knows it needs a win to stay in the Last 32 race after losing in a dramatic fashion the last two weeks, while Galatasaray could clinch first place with a win and a loss by Nizhny Novgorod (4-3). The latter plays host to AEK Athens (4-3) and Eurocup's scoring and rebounding leader Loukas Mavrokefalidis (25 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game). If Jerusalem loses, the winner between Nizhny and AEK qualifies to the next stage. On Wednesday, Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-6) hopes to stay in Last 32 contention when it welcomes Neptunas Klaipeda (4-3). Led by Travis Bader, who has made a league-best 25 triples on astounding 71.4% accuracy, Neptunas can qualify with a win and a Jerusalem loss. On the other hand, Oktyabr needs a win to keep its chances to advance alive.
Make sure to follow all the Regular Season Round 8 action on Eurosport and Eurocupbasketball.com!