Last 32, Game 6: Unics perfect, seven more qualify
A strong finish to the Last 32 saw Unics Kazan stay undefeated and assure itself home-court advantage in every series it qualifies for going forward. Meanwhile, seven new teams - Banvit Bandirma, CAI Zaragoza, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir, Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul, Nizhny Novgorod, Stelmet Zielona Gora and Limoges CSP - survived to the next phase, the Eurocup Eighthfinals, which begin on February 23 and 24!
Eighthfinal A: FC Bayern Munich (G1) vs. ALBA Berlin (J2)
Eighthfinal B: Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (H1) vs. Limoges CSP (I2)
Eighthfinal C: EWE Baskets Oldenburg (I1) vs. Strasbourg (H2)
Eighthfinal D: EA7 Emporio Armani Milan (J1) vs. Banvit Bandirma (G2)
Eighthfinal E: Dolomiti Energia Trento (K1) vs. CAI Zaragoza (N2)
Eighthfinal F: Zenit St. Petersburg (L1) vs. Nizhny Novgorod (M2)
Eighthfinal G: Unics Kazan (M1) vs. Stelmet Zielona Gora (L2)
Eighthfinal H: Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (N1) vs. Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir (K2)
In a do-or-die battle, Banvit Bandirma defeated visiting Dominion Bilbao Basket 73-65 to qualify to the eighthfinals to face EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. Bilbao finished third in the group with a 3-3 record. Banvit led by 13 points in the second quarter, but the visitors rallied and went ahead 50-52 after 30 minutes. However, a 16-2 fourth-quarter run paved the way for Banvit's victory. Courtney Fortson led the winners with 23 points and Dominique Johnson added 18. In an all-German showdown, ratiopharm Ulm downed previously qualified FC Bayern Munich 74-65 to leave the 2015-16 Eurocup in style. Ulm was already eliminated and Bayern was mathematically first in Group G once Banvit beat Dominion earlier. Bayern will now face archrivals ALBA Berlin in the eighthfinals. Ulm outscored the visitors 24-7 in the first quarter, held 44-26 at halftime and cruised to a well-deserved win. De'Sean Butler led the winners with 15 points, while Anton Gavel had 17 points for Bayern.
Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas topped already-eliminated Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 108-61, finishing Last 32 in style while winning Group H on Wednesday. Gran Canaria knew it won the group before the game even started since earlier in the day Avtodor Saratov held on for an 87-80 home victory over Strasbourg. Pablo Aguilar had 19 points for Gran Canaria, while Alen Omic collected 18 points and 17 rebounds to tying the Last 32 record for most rebounds in a single game. Anzejs Pasecniks scored 12 of his 16 points in the opening 6 minutes as Gran Canaria took a 22-5 margin. Lead grew to 58-25 at halftime, and kept increasing in the second half as Gran Canaria learned it is set to play Limoges CSP in the eighthfinals. Avtodor finished its Eurocup season on a winning note and a 3-3 record in Last 32, while Strasbourg is second with 4-2 and will meet EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the next stage. Jeremy Chappell made 5 of 6 three-pointers en route to 29 points, while Travis Peterson added 18 points for Avtodor. Roddy Beaubois paced Strasbourg with 23 points and Romain Duport, Bangaly Fofana and Jeremy Leloup added 10 points apiece.
The reigning two-time French champ Limoges CSP advanced to the Eurocup Eighthfinals by downing PAOK Thessaloniki 79-61 at home on Wednesday. Limoges finished Group I with a 3-3 mark, the same as three-time Eurocup champion Valencia Basket, which beat first place EWE Baskets Oldenburg 77-62. However, Limoges swept Valencia in their two head-to-head clashes and finished second, which means it will face Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas in the Eurocup eighthfinals. Limoges used outstanding defense to get a 16-9 lead after 10 minutes, and Bo McCalebb help boost the hosts' margin to 39-25 at halftime. Limoges never looked back, as the lead broke the 20-point barrier in the fourth quarter and McCalebb led the winners with 17 points. Georgios Dedas had 19 points for PAOK, which finishes its Eurocup campaign with 2-4 record in the Last 32. Valencia broke the game open in the third quarter, pulling away to a 17-point margin and keeping control the rest of the way as Justin Hamilton scored 16 points. Oldenburg clinched first place in the group last week, and will face Strasbourg in the home-and-away eighthfinals series.
On Tuesday, ALBA Berlin beat visiting Neptunas Klaipeda 76-62 to clinch second place and the last eighthfinals spot. Robert Lowery starred with 24 points, 3 assists and 3 steals as ALBA took the win-or-go-home game. An early 10-0 run put the hosts in charge and a 12-0 push to finish the second quarter made it 41-21 at the break. Neptunas fought back to within 10 in the second half, but the outcome was never truly in doubt. The team that could have benefitted had ALBA lost, Aris Thessaloniki, showed its pride by downing group leader EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 83-68 in what became its last Eurocup game this season on Wednesday. Aris and ALBA tied with 3-3 records for second place, but there was a five-point difference in the German team's favor based on the two home wins they split against each other. Jamelle Hagins led Aris with 15 points on 7-for-10 two-point accuracy. Milan, which got 14 points from Rakim Sanders, fell to 4-2 but had already clinched first place and will still have home-court advantage in the eighthfinals against Banvit Bandirma.
Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir raced past visiting Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia 109-66 to secure second place in the group on Wednesday and soar into Eurocup Eighthfinals, where it will play fellow Turkish side Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul. Karsiyaka pulled away in the second quarter and held a 52-35 lead at the break. The hosts opened the second half with an 8-0 run and finished by scoring 109 points, second-most in Last 32 history, as Kenny Gabriel's 25 points paced six Karsiyaka players in double figures. Karsiyaka finished Last 32 with 3-3 record, same as Trabzonspor Medical Park, which went on the road to beat group winner Dolomiti Energia Trento 73-89. Trabzonspor, which had already been eliminated due to losing tie-breakers with both Karsiyaka and Reggio Emilia, put a strong end to its debut Eurocup campaign behind 27 points and 5 assists from Dwight Hardy and 18 points from Andrija Stipanovic. Trento dropped to 4-2 but won the group and will take on CAI Zaragoza in the Eurocup Eighthfinals.
Reigning Polish champion Stelmet Zielona Gora picked up a 58-68 road victory over Umana Reyer Venice to book its spot in the Eurocup Eighthfinals. Zielona Gora finished second in the group with a 3-3 record, tie for second place with MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg, which beat group winner Zenit St. Petersburg 85-72 on its home floor. Zielona Gora won head-to-head tiebreak with Ludwigsburg thanks to a larger victory in the road wins they split with each other and will face Unics Kazan in the two-game eighthfinals. Dee Bost scored 19 points and Mateusz Ponitka collected 12 points and 12 rebounds for Zielona Gora, which spent most of the night with a slim lead before pulling away to a double-digit margin with a 0-8 run early in the fourth quarter. Ludwigsburg finished its Eurocup campaign on a high note behind Royce O’Neale, who collected 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Jon Brockman had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Zenit, which had already secured first place in the group, finished Last 32 with 4-2 record, and will face fellow Russian side Nizhny Novgorod in the Eighthfinals.
In a do-or-die battle that went into overtime, Nizhny Novgorod defeated host Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 84-95 and advanced to the Eurocup Eighthfinals, where it will clash with fellow Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg. It was Nizhny's first trip ever to Tel Aviv, and it outscored Macccabi 3-14 in the extra session. Nizhny held a lead for most of the night, and was up 49-59 in the third quarter, but Maccabi rallied and Gal Mekel tied the game at 81-81 with a pair of fouls shots with 12.5 seconds left in regulation time. In overtime, however, it was all Nizhny, which hit 14 three-pointers to Maccabi's 4 on the night. Victor Rudd led the winners with 22 points, while Dimitry Khvostov made 5 of 8 from downtown for 19 points. Maccabi closed its Eurocup season at 2-4 after getting 21 points from Mekel. Unics Kazan completed perfect Last 32 run by beating Union Olimpija Ljubljana 72-64, clinching home-court advantage in each phase it reaches going forward in the competition. Former Eurocup MVP Marko Banic finished with 14 points to lead Unics to 6-0 record and a date with Stelmet Zielona Gora in the eighthfinals.
Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul bested Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 87-69 to clinch first place in Group N and qualify for the eighthfinals, where it will face Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir in an all-Turkish showdown. Galatasaray and Sassari traded blows and leads in the first half, but after the break a 14-6 spurt helped the hosts build a double-digit lead before breaking the game open early in the fourth quarter. Sinan Guler led the winners with 18 points while Stephane Lasme amassed 15 points and 14 rebounds for Galatasaray, which finished Last 32 with a 4-2 record, the same as CAI Zaragoza. Galatasaray won first place due to its tie-break advantage over CAI, which beat Szolnoki Olaj on the road 70-80. The Hungarian champions led by double figures early on, but CAI rallied before halftime, then took the lead for good soon after the break. Slava Kravtsov and Stevan Jelovac finished off the job in the fourth quarter. Jelovac led the winners with 21 points plus 11 rebounds and Kravtsov added 15 points and 8 rebounds in victory. David Vojvoda has 20 points for Szolnoki which finished Last 32 with 1-5 record.
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