7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, Round 9: MoraBanc, Rytas, Zvezda crash Top 16 party
More of the Top 16 puzzle was revealed in Round 9 with MoraBanc Andorra, Rytas Vilnius and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade crashing the Top 16 party and As Monaco, Valencia Basket and UNICS Kazan clinching the top spots in their respective groups. However, four more tickets to the Top 16 remain unclaimed with seven teams still in the running. The games of Round 9 saw one EuroLeague record set, a number of teams set club records with half the games decided by 5 points or less.
AS Monaco clinched first place in Group A of the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season by downing Galatasaray Istanbul 76-71 at home on Wednesday. Monaco improved to 7-2 in Group A, while Galatasaray fell to a 3-6 and was eliminated from the competition. Ian Hummer and Elmedin Kikanovic led the winners with 14 points apiece. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade roared to an emphatic 103-67 home drubbing of Germani Brescia Leonessa, improving to 5-4 and sealing a spot in the Top 16. The result sent Brescia to 3-6 and needing a win next week to maintain its hopes of progressing. A sparkling first-half performance did the damage for Zvezda, which led by a EuroCup record 43 points at the interval after being superbly led by Joe Ragland. He eventually finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists, while Branko Lazic added 14 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting. On Tuesday, ratiopharm Ulm held off MoraBanc Andorra 88-80 on Tuesday to improve its chances to qualify for the Top 16, while the visitors booked their place in the Top 16 for the first time in club history. Ulm improved to 4-5 and MoraBanc dropped to 5-4. Ulm's Patrick Miller led all scorers with 20 points. Dylan Ennis had 17 points, including free throws with 25 seconds to go that clinched MoraBanc's place in the Top 16. Ennis also dished 6 assists.
The final remaining ticket for the Top 16 from Group B will wait until Round 10 after Limoges CSP staved off elimination by picking up a 92-98 victory at Tofas Bursa on Tuesday. Jordan Taylor paced Limoges with 21 points in his debut, while William Howard added 19 points and 7 rebounds as the French side improved to 3-6. Limoges controls its own destiny and will clinch a Top 16 berth if it wins in Round 10 at Arka Gdynia. Tofas, which has the same 3-6 record, missed a chance to move into the next stage with the loss. Sammy Mejia tallied 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists for Tofas, which needs to win in Round 10 and for Limoges to lose to earn a place in the next stage. ALBA Berlin remained alive in the hunt for first place in the group with a 64-76 road victory over Arka, which eliminated the home team from Top 16 contention. ALBA improved to 7-2 and will capture the top spot in the group if it defeats Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar next week. Arka lost its fourth straight game, saw its record fall to 1-8 and was formally eliminated from Top 16 contention. Niels Giffey paced the winners with18 points and Luke Sikma added 16 points plus a club-record 6 steals. Deividas Dulkys led Arka with 22 points in 21 minutes and tied a club record for three-pointers made with 6. On Wednesday, Lokomotiv registered its fourth consecutive win by holding off visiting Cedevita Zagreb 80-76 in a hard-fought game. Lokomotiv improved to 8-1 and remained in sole possession of first place in Group B, while Cedevita saw its three-game winning streak snapped. The visitors dropped to 5-4 and will go into the Top 16 from third place. Mateusz Ponitka paced the winners with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Jacob Pullen netted 21 points for Cedevita.
Valencia Basket locked up first place in Group C by holding off Zenit St. Petersburg 97-89 at home – a result that left Zenit waiting until Round 10 to see if can advance to the next stage. Five players scored in double figures for Valencia, topped by Sam Van Rossom and Matt Thomas with 19 points each. Valencia improved to 7-2 in the group including a perfect 5-0 record at home. Zenit dropped to 4-5. The visitors played without the competition's leading scorer Sergey Karasev, who was a last-minute scratch due to a back injury. Jalen Reynolds totaled 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals for Zenit. Partizan NIS Belgrade honored its never-say-die tradition by upsetting host LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 75-78 in a thriller on Tuesday to stay alive. Partizan improved to 3-6. Already-advanced ASVEL fell to 6-4 and will finish second to Valencia Basket. Partizan took the see-saw battle thanks to 3 consecutive baskets late by Jock Landale, who matched Aleksej Nikolic and Marcus Paige with 15 points each for the winners. Miro Bilan led ASVEL with 17 points. Turk Telekom Ankara remained alive in the race for the Top 16 by holding on for an 84-77 home victory over Dolomiti Energia Trento on Wednesday. Sylven Landesberg led the way for Turk Telekom with 24 points, while Vladimir Stimac picked up 20 points and 10 rebounds. The win snapped Turk Telekom's two-game losing streak and improved its record to 4-5 in Group C. Trento dropped to 3-6 with the loss and was eliminated from contention for the Top 16.
UNICS Kazan clinched first place in Group D by downing Unicaja Malaga 87-84 at Basket Hall Kazan on Wednesday. UNICS improved to 8-1 in the standings to clinch first place and Unicaja dropped to 7-2 and will be second regardless of other results. Errick McCollum led the winners with 21 points and Pierria Henry added 19. Giorgi Shermadini paced Unicaja with 22 points. Former Unicaja star Jamar Smith put the game on ice with a late three for UNICS. In the group's lone Tuesday contest, Rytas Vilnius pulled out a thrilling 96-101 overtime win over Fiat Turin to bring itself to the verge of a place in the Top 16. Rytas allowed a 16-point fourth quarter lead to slip away in this one, but eventually got a win which improved it to 4-5 and fourth place in the group. Fiat remained winless, losing for the second time in overtime at home this season. Dallas Moore netted 26 points on 6-for-8 three-point shooting for Fiat, which set a club record with 17 triples. Rok Stipcevic scored a career-high 31 points for Rytas, was ushered into the Top 16 on Wednesday when Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt outlasted Mornar Bar 83-87. Skyliners improved to 6-3 and will finish third in Group D regardless of Round 10 outcomes. Mornar was formally eliminated with the loss, which put its record at 2-7. Erik Murphy led the winners with 19 points in 4-of-5 three-point shooting.