Last 32, Round 3: A great week for road warriors!
The third round of Last 32 games smiled on the road teams; nearly half of the 16 games played went to the visiting teams. Three of them - FC Bayern Munich, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar – used their results to become the only teams to reach the midway point of the Last 32 with 3-0 records. Round 3 also saw another undefeated team, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, suffer its first loss of the entire Europe season after 12 straight wins. The drama is building for the remaining Last 32 games and the race to reach the Eighthfinals. A quarter of the eight groups have three-way ties for first place and three more have three-way ties for second! Next week could see the first qualifiers as well.
In an All-Russian showdown in Group G, Unics Kazan improved to 2-1 by overwhelming Zenit St. Petersburg 103-67. Unics remained undefeated at home thanks to Keith Langford, who led the winners with 24 points, and James White, who added 23. Unics led 49-41 at halftime and White took over after the break before an 11-0 run that Dmitry Sokolov capped with a layup sealed the outcome, 73-51, late in the third quarter. Strasbourg defeated CEZ Basketball Nymburk 87-80 at home to join a three-way tie for first place. Antoine Diot fired in 6-of-7 three-point shots on his way to 30 points - a new Eurocup career-high. Tadija Dragicevic added 22 while Matt Howard had 18 and 11 rebounds for Strasbourg. Strasbourg led 24-21 after 10 minutes and Dragicevic had 17 second-quarter points to boost the hosts' margin to 49-36 at halftime. A late rally allowed Nymburk to get back in the game, but Howard and Diot shined in crunch time and ensured the Strasbourg win.
Banvit Bandirma led for the entire game in beating Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas 80-70 to bring the two teams into a share of first place in Group H with 2-1 records. The loss was Gran Canaria’s first in 13 games this season. Can Maxim Mutaf scored 22 points on 5-of-8 shooting from downtown to lead the winners and Keith Simmons scored 7 of his 18 points in a final 10-0 run. Brad Newley had 18 points to lead Gran Canaria. Later, Suad Sehovic scored 13 of his career-high 27 points in the first quarter to lead Buducnost VOLI Podgorica to a 93-86 victory over Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari. Sehovic led a three-point shootout that saw the hosts put up 35 first-quarter points, but the high-scoring Sassari side remained in the game. A big third quarter helped the hosts cruise to an 87-65 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Sassari rallied with a 2-19 charge, however Buducnost held on. Sehovic added a career-high 13 boards for the winners. Rakim Sanders paced Sassari with 24 points.
Virtus Rome held off Cedevita Zagreb 73-66 to claim a share of first place in Group I at 2-1 alongside Cedevita. Kyle Gibson scored 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting and Jordan Morgan controlled the paint with 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead the hosts. Morgan had 8 of the team’s 17 offensive rebounds. Rome led 39-31 at halftime lead, but Cedevita stormed back with a 0-14 charge of its own, however the hosts’ strung together 8 straight points late to guarantee the win. Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd edged CAI Zaragoza 71-66, leaving both teams with 1-2 records. The hosts used an 11-0 run bridging halftime to take a comfortable margin they kept till the end. Randy Culpepper stood out with 21 points and 4 assists for the winners, and Donnie McGrath added 17 points.
In the only Last 32 group where all four teams had 1-1 records, Limoges CSP claimed an 81-70 victory over visiting FoxTown Cantu on Tuesday. The hosts used a late 9-0 run to take control. Adrien Moerman starred with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the winners, who outrebounded the visitors 44-26. James Feldeine scored 16 of his 19 points in the third quarter for Cantu. On Wednesday, Khimki Moscow Region bested PAOK Thessaloniki 78-82 on the road. After many ties and lead changes, the visitors pulled away in the final quarter and held off a late PAOK charge to win. Tyler Honeycutt led the winners with 14 points. Khimki needed all its veteran leaders to withstand PAOK, which got 17 points from Marc Carter.
In their first meeting in nearly half a century, FC Bayern Munich beat Union Olimpija Ljubljana 80-90 in the Slovenian capital on Tuesday. The visitors opened the fourth quarter with 19 unanswered points to complete a comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit and improve to 3-0. Bayern could clinch a spot in the Eurocup Eighthfinals as soon as next week when it hosts Olimpija in Munich. Big men Vladimir Stimac and John Bryant made the difference for the winners. The former tallied 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting plus 9 rebounds and the latter had 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 11 boards. JDA Dijon topped Brose Baskets Bamberg 81-86 on Wednesday for its first-ever Eurocup Last 32 win. Steven Gray paced the winners with 22 points, including back-to-back triples that sealed the outcome in the final two minutes. Erving Walker added 21 points and 9 assists. Bradley Wanamaker led Bamberg with 21 points. It all came down to the final 2 minutes, when Gray hit from downtown and Walker added free throws to seal a valuable road win.
A pair of one-sided results left three teams tied for first place through three games in Group L. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius strengthened its standing after a resounding 100-78 home win over Baloncesto Seville. Martynas Gecevicius had one of his best games ever to lead the Rytas blowout, posting Eurocup career highs of 26 points, 7 three-pointers made, 7 rebounds and a performance index rating of 38 in 26 minutes played. Gecevicius also had 9 assists, his second-highest total after the 10 that he had recorded earlier this month in the first Last 32 round. Ksistof Lavrinovic followed with 21 points for the winners. PGE Turow Zgorzelec thrashed Telenet Ostend 99-71. Michal Chylinski paced the winners with 28 points on 6-of-9 shooting from downtown. Damian Kulig added 19 points and Mardy Collins contributed 12 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for Turow, which led 50-36 at halftime and 73-54 at the end of the third quarter. Turow hit 15-of-32 three-point shots and outrebounded Ostend 40-31.
On Tuesday, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir defetaed Paris Levallois 75-85 in the French capital. Karsiyaka improved to 3-0 and could potentially clinch a spot in the next stage as soon as next week when it hosts Paris. Bobby Dixon paced a balanced Karsiyaka attack with 22 points and 5 assists, while Kenny Gabriel posted 17 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. Blake Schilb led Paris with 20 points and 8 assists. Paris fought back from 21 down to within 7 twice in the second half, but could get no closer. Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul escaped from Klaipeda with a 62-69 victory over Neptunas to tie the two teams with 1-2 records in Group M. A 5-20 Besiktas run bridging halftime made the difference. Neptunas came back to tie it and came within 3 late, but the visitors kept their cool at the line to secure victory. JaJuan Johnson contributed to the victory with 18 points and 8 rebounds and Chris Lofton added 17 points.
CSU Asesoft Ploiesti showed its mettle by holding off Valencia Basket for an 87-92 road win. It was the Romanian champs’ first Last 32 victory and moved it into a three-way tie with Valencia and SLUC Nancy for second-place in Group N at 1-2. Asesoft led by 8 early in the fourth quarter, but Valencia rallied to tie the score four times; The last was 85-85 with less than two minutes to play, but the visitors stood tall under pressure on both ends to claim the victory. Marius Runkauskas led the attack with 22 points and Alhaji Mohammed tallied 20 points and 7 assists. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar stayed undefeated by downing SLUC Nancy 57-66 on the road. Lokomotiv recorded its 14th consecutive win in the competition, one shy of the all-time record, 15, which belongs to Khimki Moscow Region. Anthony Randolph paced the winners with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Nancy was within 53-55 after three quarters, but Nikita Kurbanov hit back-to-back triples in a 0-10 run that sealed the outcome.
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