Top 16 Round 3: Halfway to the quarterfinals!
Round 3 of the EuroCup Top 16 brought us halfway through this stage and brought several teams closer to the quarterfinals. Three teams, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, FC Bayern Munich and Valencia Basket, sit proudly atop their groups with 3-0 records, while Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and ALBA Berlin jumped back into the race by claiming their first wins.
Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas survived a late UCAM Murcia surge to snatch a 94-85 victory on Tuesday. The win was its first of the Top 16 to rise to 1-2, which matches Murcia’s record. Kyle Kuric was 4 for 4 from downtown for 18 points and Richard Hendrix posted 13 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for Gran Canaria, which made 9 of 18 threes (50%). Jose Angel Antelo paced Murcia with 19 points and Facundo Campazzo posted 11 points and 8 assists. The visitors trailed by as many as 23 before storming back in the second half to get within 4, but Gran Canaria held on down the stretch. On Wednesday, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar remained undefeated by downing Montakit Fuenlabrada 86-61 at home. Fuenlabrada dropped to 1-2. Matt Janning led the winners with 25 points on 6-of-6 two-point shooting and 4-of-7 from downtown. Three-point shooting made the difference in the first half, in which Lokomotiv hit 8-of-13 (61.5%) and Fuenlabrada downed just 1-of-14 (7.1%). Lokomotiv limited Fuenlabrada to just 3 assists and outrebounded its opponents 14-9 before halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as Lokomotiv kept a very safe margin until the final buzzer.
FC Bayern Munich reached the midway point of the Top 16 with a perfect record by beating Lietkabelis Panevezys 85-69 on Wednesday at Audi Dome. While the result lifted Bayern it 3-0, it dropped Lietkabelis to 1-2 and third place in the group. Nick Johnson scored 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench as the Bayern reserves outscored their counterparts 49 27. Bayern also outrebounded Lietkabelis (37-27) in a game it led from tip to buzzer. Ben Madgen paced Lietkabelis with 17 points. Khimki Moscow Region edged winless ratiopharm Ulm on the road 90-95 to remain right behind Bayern. Ulm used a 14-2 fourth-quarter spurt to go in front 81-76, but Khimki's 2-13 run behind E.J. Rowland turned the deficit into an 83-89 Khimki lead with 60 seconds to go. Alexey Shved netted 28 points and Rowland scored 11 of his 16 points in the last four minutes of the game. Raymar Morgan had 20 points for Ulm.
Round 3 opened Tuesday with a big game from David Logan to lead Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius to a convincing 63-97 victory over Nizhny Novgorod at CEC Nagorny. Logan scored 30 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting and added 6 assists and 3 steals for a career-best performance rating of 38 as Rytas collected its first Top 16 victory to improve to 1-2, while dropping Nizhny to the same record. Rytas took charge early in the second quarter and never looked back to lead by 10 at halftime and 22 through three quarters. Petr Gubanov led five Nizhny scorers in double figures with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Zenit St Petersburg routed Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 101-81 Wednesday at Yubileyni Arena to assume first place in the group. Both teams have identical 2-1 records. Zenit never trailed, but Jerusalem remained within striking distance until midway through the third quarter when the hosts held Jerusalem without a basket for a stretch of more than seven minutes that extended into the fourth quarter. In that time, Zenit outscored Jerusalem 18-1 to open a 23-point lead, from which it cruised to victory. In addition to its marvelous shooting numbers – 29 of 37 on two-pointers (78.4%) and 11 of 22 on threes (50%), Zenit dominated the glass 31-16 had more than double as many assists as its opponent (30-14). Zenit tied its club records for most assists and highest performance index rating (117) in a EuroCup game. Ryan Toolson led the attack with 28 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting and Stefan Markovic tallied 16 points, 6 assists and 3 steals.
In a battle between undefeated teams, Valencia Basket rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat Unicaja Malaga 70-78 on the road. Valencia improved to 3-0, while Unicaja dropped to 2-1. Will Thomas led the winners with 15 points against his former team, while Bojan Dubljevic grabbed 10 rebounds for Valencia. Jamar Smith led Unicaja with 17 points, all of which came in the first half. Unicaja hit 9 of 11 three-point shots in the first half; Smith hit 4 of those in as many attempts, scoring 17 points in just 11 minutes before the break to give Unicaja a 48-41 lead at halftime. Valencia opened the second half with a 0-13 run and kept the lead for good. Unicaja went on to hit just 2-of-14 three-point shots (14.3%) after the break. ALBA Berlin kept its quarterfinal hopes alive with a come-from-behind 93-76 win over Cedevita Zagreb. The visitors held a 12-point lead in the second quarter, but ALBA tied a club record night with 14 three-pointers, and rallied before halftime before building a lead in the second half. Elmedin Kikanovic paced the hosts with 19 points and Peyton Siva amassed 16 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Luka Babic scored 22 points for Cedevita.