7DAYS EuroCup Top 16, Round 6: Reggio Emilia, UNICS, Zenit get last playoff spots
In the last game of the Top 16, Zenit St. Petersburg beat Fiat Turin to claim the last remaining ticket to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal matchups are Darussafaka Istanbul against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, FC Bayern Munich against UNICS Kazan, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar against Herbalife Gran Canaria and Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia against Zenit St. Petersburg. Those games begin on March 6. Lokomotiv, which stretched its winning streak to 16 – the second-longest in competition after its own 20-game streak a few years back, will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Herbalife Gran Canaria finished the Top 16 in style by downing Darussafaka Istanbul 78-70 at home. Darussafaka, which finished atop Group E with a 5-1 record, saw its six-game winning streak come to an end. Gran Canaria placed second at 4-2. D.J. Seeley led the winners with 23 points and Ondrej Balvin added 16. Okben Ulubay paced Darussafaka with 16 points. Seeley, Albert Oliver and Anzejs Pasecniks combined for 12 points in a 16-1 run highlighted by Gal Mekel's buzzer-beating layup for a 45-29 Gran Canaria lead at halftime. Little changed after the break as Gran Canaria padded its lead, which peaked at 20 midway through the fourth quarter. In the Top 16 Round 6 opener between two eliminated teams on Tuesday, ALBA Berlin edged Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul on the road 92-97 in overtime to finish third in the group with a 2-4 record. ALBA's hero was Peyton Siva, who scored all 12 of ALBA's points in overtime to lift the visitors to victory. Siva finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Marius Grigonis added 20 points in victory. Richard Hendrix had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists for the hosts, and Goksenin Koksal also scored 20 points for Galatasaray, which ended its Top 16 campaign with a 1-5 record.
FC Bayern Munich rounded out a solid performance in 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 Group F by topping Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 85-87 in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday. Bayern, which had locked up first place before this game, finished Group F with a 5-1 record and will have the home court advantage in its best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs series against UNICS Kazan. Rytas had lost all chances to qualify last week and was fourth in this group with a 1-5 record. Jared Cunningham led the winners with 21 points. Devin Booker added 18, Maik Zirbes had 14 while Reggie Redding and Danilo Barthel each had 11 for Bayern. Chris Kramer led Rytas with 18 points. The game went down to the wire, as Cunningham hit free throws for an 82-85 Bayern lead with 16.8 seconds to go. Booker had a critical block and more foul shots by Cunningham sealed the outcome. Zenit St. Petersburg claimed the last remaining spot in the quarterfinal by rallying from a 14-point deficit on the road to defeat Fiat Turin 73-87. Zenit finished the Top 16 with a 4-2 record and will face Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia in the quarterfinals. Fiat, which needed to win by more than 11 points to move to the quarterfinals, ended its first-ever EuroCup campaign with 2-4 Top 16 record. Fiat dominated the first half and led 45-31 late in the second quarter, but Zenit used 4-23 third-quarter charge to regain the lead and cruise to victory. Sergey Karasev led Zenit with 17 points, while Diante Garrett had 21 points for the hosts.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar stayed perfect this season with a 71-74 road win over Dolomiti Energia Trento. Lokomotiv finished 6-0 in Group G, which when added to its 10-0 regular season record gives the team the second-longest undefeated streak in EuroCup history. The longest such streak, 20 games, belongs to Lokomotiv's 2015-16 team. Trento finished 2-4 despite rallying from 13 points behind to tie 69-69 on a layup by Jorge Gutierrez with 32 seconds left. Lokomotiv welcomed back point guard Joe Ragland after four games injured, and he stepped up 10 seconds later with the three-pointer that spelled the difference. Ryan Broekhoff led Lokomotiv with 13 points, while Frank Elegar and Mardy Collins had 10 each. Gutierrez paced Trento with 17 points. Buducnost VOLI Podgorica roared into the quarterfinals in the best possible fashion with a thumping 84-52 home win over Cedevita Zagreb, which exited the Top 16 with a 0-6 record. Buducnost, 4-2, quickly established a big lead and never looked back en route to a no-doubt-about-it victory. Eleven different players got on the scoreboard for the hosts, led by Suad Sedovic with 14 points. Buducnost had excellent shooting percentages, making 26-of-39 two-pointers (66.7%) and 10-of-21 triples (47.6%).
Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia advanced to the quarterfinals as the Group H winner on Tuesday with a 75-68 victory over ASVEL Villeurbanne. Amedeo Della Valle scored 19 to pace Reggio Emilia, which improved to 4-2 and reached this stage for the first time since 2006. ASVEL dropped to 3-3 and was eliminated. The result also sent UNICS Kazan into the quarterfinals from second place in Group H. In a back-and-forth game, ASVEL led at halftime before Reggio Emilia started the second half on a 10-2 charge and went on to lead by as many as 9 in the fourth quarter. ASVEL rallied to within 2 in the final minute, but Julian Wright and Chris Wright teamed up on a key steal that led to a game-clinching layup by Pedro Llompart. UNICS celebrated on Wednesday with an 88-78 victory over Limoges CSP. UNICS finished the Top 16 with a 4-2 record and will face FC Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals. Danny Gibson led a 0-14 second-quarter Limoges run and the visitors remained ahead at halftime and for most of the third quarter, but UNICS started the fourth with a 12-2 charge and never looked back. Jamar Smith was perfect on 4 three-point tries for 16 points and Anton Ponkrashov made 4 of 5 from behind the arc for 12 points as UNICS made 56% of its threes in coming from behind to beat Limoges. Limoges finished last at 1-5.