Limoges CSP marked its return to top flight European hoops with a good run in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season and now turns its focus to the Eurocup Last 32. The French champs played well at home, where despite facing some of the giants of Europe, Limoges won two games and did not lose by more than 10 in any game. Sixth man and three-point ace Jamar Smith is Limoges’s top offensive threat, while forwards Nobel Boungou-Colo and Adrien Moerman also pack some punch at both ends of the floor. Point guard Leo Westermann, who is nearing his top form after returning from knee surgery, could be Limoges’s most-important player going forward. With a healthy roster and strong play at home, Limoges could make a deep Eurocup run.
Khimki Moscow Region
Group D winner and 2012 Eurocup champion Khimki Moscow Region flashed its credentials by winning the last five games of the regular season to finish with an 8-2 record. Coach Rimas Kurtunaitis’s squad is loaded with talent with Euroleague Final Four MVP Tyrese Rice, Eurocup all-time three-point shooting king Marko Popovic and Petteri Koponen leading the backcourt, while Joffrey Lauvergne, Tyler Honeycutt and James Augustine doing damage in the paint. Khimki led the regular season in scoring, assists, blocked shots and performance index rating and ranked second in three-pointers made and steals. With former All-Eurocup center Paul Davis rounding into form after missing the start of the season injured, Khimki is built to go far.
PAOK Thessaloniki overcame a three-game losing streak and the loss of veteran guard and leader Kostas Charalampidis to injury by winning its final two games of the regular season to finish second in Group F with a 6-4 record. Guard Marc Carter and center Julian Vaughn have been PAOK’s go-to guys thus far, but tam defense has been the biggest strength the team has displayed. PAOK held opponents to less than 70 points in half their regular season games and was one of only three teams in the regular season to force more turnovers from the opposition than assists allowed. Considering that Coach Soulis Markopoulos is starting a pair of Eurocup rookies in Vaughn and Jake Odum, the added experience should make PAOK better each passing week.
Foxtown Cantu opened the Eurocup season on the left foot with four consecutive losses, but then won four of five to claim fourth place in Group B and a ticket for the second year in a row. Cantu is led by its guard duo of Darius Johnson-Odom and James Feldeine; the former had the highest performance index rating of any player in a non-overtime game this season with 40 in a Round 9 victory over JDA Dijon. Center Giorgi Shermadini, who missed the start of the season through injury, has been a force since his return too. All told, Coach Pino Sacripanti has plenty of weapons to work with as Cantu looks to keep its positive momentum going deep into the Last 32.