Regular Season, Round 8: So much to play for!
Three of the 16 spots in the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 are spoken for, but 11 of the remaining tickets could be swiped this week! While several teams control their destiny and many others need help to advance this week - or at all, all the drama and calculations must wait till Wednesday night, which is when 10 of Round 8's 12 games will be played. Neither of the Tuesday night games can send a team through.
Segafredo Virtus Bologna (6-1) and Promitheas Patras (5-2) both advanced in Round 7 and the remaining two spots from Group A can be decided this week. AS Monaco (4-3) hosts Maccabi Rishon LeZion (1-6) at 18:45 knowing that a win sends it through. Rishon is eliminated if it loses. A Rishon victory would give it a season sweep of Monaco; the Israeli squad's only win this season came at Monaco's expense, 77-72, in Round 3. Alex Hamilton was the Round 3 MVP after torching Monaco for 22 points and 8 assists. If Monaco wins, it would also secure MoraBanc Andorra's (4-3) passage into the Top 16. Andorra can also advance if it beats Virtus in their game at 20:00. Virtus captured an 87-72 victory behind a dominant showing from Julian Gamble in their previous meeting. Group A's early game sees Promitheas welcome ratiopharm Ulm (1-6), which will be mathematically eliminated from Top 16 contention if it loses or if Monaco wins. Promitheas eked out a 67-70 road win in Ulm in Round 3 behind Langston Hall's 16 points and 11 assists.
Umana Reyer Venice (5-2) and Partizan NIS Belgrade (5-2) each advance with a win this week. Reyer visits Tofas Bursa (4-3) on Wednesday at 18:00. There are also scenarios in which Reyer could lose and advance; in both of those scenarios, it would also need Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (2-5) to capture a road win at Limoges CSP (2-5). If both Tofas and Lokomotiv win, Reyer is through if it loses by less than 13 points or if Partizan wins its game. Tofas can also advance, though it needs to win and then watch other results on TV. However, a Tofas victory coupled with wins for both Partizan and Lokomotiv sends the club from Bursa into the Top 16. When they played in Venice, Reyer triumphed 76-65 behind a strong effort from Autin Daye. Partizan hosts Rytas Vilnius (3-4) at 20:00 eager to end a two-game slide. Even if Partizan loses, it can book a Top 16 berth if Reyer and Lokomotiv both win, too. Marcus Paige was the hero with a season-high 17 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting when Partizan won 61-66 in the Lithuanian capital in Round 3. Lokomotiv heads to France to play Limoges at 20:45 in its first game since the dismissal of head coach Luca Banchi. Lokomotiv has lost four straight games since it beat Limoges 86-75 behind Alan Williams's season-high 17 points. If Lokomotiv loses and both Rytas and Tofas win, Lokomotiv will be eliminated.
Action in this group begins Tuesday when Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana (2-5) looks to keep its momentum going when it hosts Germani Brescia Leonessa (4-3) at 18:30. Brescia could potentially advance with a win, but only if UNICS Kazan (5-2) does its part and wins on Wednesday. Olimpija (2-5) would be eliminated if it loses and Joventut Badalona (4-3) wins on Wednesday. The first game on Wednesday will see UNICS face Nanterre 92 (2-5) at 17:30. A win for the home team is worth a Top 16 berth. UNICS can also qualify this week if it loses by fewer than 8 points and both Joventut and Brescia win. UNICS scored the game's final 6 points to grab a 92-94 win in France when these sides played in Round 3. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul (4-3) takes on Joventut in the Group C finale on Wednesday at 18:15. If Brescia won on Tuesday, the winner of this game will advance. Darussafaka also progresses to the next stage with a loss if both Brescia and UNICS won their games. Joventut edged Darussafaka 85-82 in Round 3 as Xavi Lopez-Arostegui scored 17 points off the bench in his EuroCup debut.
The Round 8 opener will see a pair of former champs clash when Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul (4-3) hosts Unicaja Malaga (6-1) on Tuesday at 18:00. Unicaja, which has now won three in a row, already secured its place in the next phase last week. It could lock up first place in Group D if it wins and Dolomiti Energia Trento (3-4) beats EWE Baskets Oldenburg (4-3) on Wednesday. For Galatasaray to reach the Top 16 in Round 8, it needs to win and for Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (1-6) to win on Wednesday. Axel Toupane shined with 22 points off the bench to lead Unicaja to an 88-83 victory when they played last in Spain. Both Group D games on Thursday tip-off at the same time: 20:00. Oldenburg, which began a four-game winning streak right after losing to Trento 91-81 in Round 3, can advance under two different scenarios; in one, both Oldenburg and Buducnost must win. In the other, Oldenburg must win by at least 9 points and Galatasaray must have lost on Tuesday. Aaron Craft, who flirted with a triple-double when Trento last beat Oldenburg, is sidelined with an injury. Fresh off its first win, Buducnost faces a must-win battle on the road at Asseco Arka Gdynia (3-4). Buducnost is eliminated if it loses. Arka, which is winless at home, would boost its Top 16 hopes with a win. The Polish squad trailed early before rallying to beat Buducnost 59-62 with 19 points from Josh Bostic in their previous meeting.