Regular Season, Round 9: Seven available tickets to Top 16 remain
There are seven unclaimed 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 spots remaining heading into the penultimate round of the regular season and more than half of those are in Group C. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Tofas Bursa can each book their Top 16 tickets on Tuesday and the other spots can be decided when the rest of the games conclude on Wednesday night. Games between Segafredo Virtus Bologna and Promitheas Patras in Group A and Unicaja Malaga and EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Group D play a big role in deciding first place in those groups, too.
There are no more remaining Top 16 spots in Group A, but all four teams that qualified can still finish in first place. The action starts on Wednesday with one of two eliminated teams, ratiopharm Ulm (1-7), hosting AS Monaco (5-3). While Ulm is playing its final home game and the team averages 84.0 points per game on its floor, the visitors have lost their last three road games and have not scored more than 77 points away from home this season. MoraBanc Andorra (5-3) hosts Maccabi Rishon LeZion (1-7) and will try to keep its top-scoring offense rolling to stay in the race for the first place. Andorra averages 86.1 points per game and that number is even better at home (91.5 ppg.). On the other hand, Rishon is winless on the road where it allows a EuroCup-high 91.0 points per contest. The only two teams that can clinch first place this round go against one another on Wednesday night with Segafredo Virtus Bologna (6-2) welcoming Promitheas Patras (6-2). Virtus is been undefeated at home and another win could be enough to secure the top spot in this group. Virtus needs to win by 10-points or more and see Monaco lose to clinch first place. Promitheas, on the other hand, needs to win and see both Andorra and Monaco lose, to clinch first place.
There is plenty at stake ahead of Round 9 in Group B with two Top 16 spots still open and four teams hoping to grab them. A key clash in that race opens the action on Tuesday when fourth-placed Rytas Vilnius (3-5) plays host to third-placed Tofas Bursa (4-4). Tofas leads the EuroCup with 21.5 assists per game and will qualify with a win in this one, but has lost three of its four away games so far by 9 points or more. Meanwhile, Rytas will make it to the Top 16 if it wins by at least 21 points. Rytas can also qualify if it beats Tofas by at least 11 points in regulation and gets help in the other Tuesday game where group leader Umana Reyer Venice (6-2) needs to defeat its host Limoges CSP (2-6). Reyer is on a league-best six-game winning streak and has scored at least 80 points in each of its last three road games. While Limoges has lost five of its last six and it is in a must-win situation if it wants to remain with a chance to stay in Top 16 race, Reyer can clinch first place with a win paired with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (3-5) beating Partizan NIS Belgrade (6-2) on Wednesday. Lokomotiv controls its own destiny after snapping a club-record four-game losing streak with new head coach Bogdan Karaicic at the helm. Partizan plans to bring its stiff defense, which allows just 72.6 points per game, third-lowest in the competition this season, and Lokomotiv has been held below 71 points three times in the last five games.
There are no teams qualified in Group C, but Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul (5-3) has a chance to become the first to do so on Tuesday when it welcomes Germani Leonessa Brescia (4-4). It is a clash of Darussafaka's top defense which holds opponents to a league-low 70.9 points per game, and Brescia's struggling offense, which has been worth a league-low 68.8 points. Darussafaka qualifies with a win, but also with a loss by fewer than 35 points because of the tiebreak advantages it holds over other opponents in the group. Brescia can also qualify, but it needs to win and get a combination of scores to go its way on Wednesday when Joventut Badalona (4-4) hosts UNICS Kazan (5-3) and Nanterre 92 (3-5) faces Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana (3-5). UNICS qualifies with a win, but it goes on the road where no team has yet pulled out a win; Joventut is perfect in four games on its home floor. UNICS can also go through with the combination of results in other games, especially if it loses by fewer than 20 points. Meanwhile, Joventut would maximize its chances if its wins by more than 12 points to overcome a loss in Kazan, but Joventut can also win by just 2 points and advance if Nanterre eliminates Olimpija with a win in that clash. Both Nanterre and Olimpija are in virtual must-win situations, although both teams could mathematically survive even if they lose. Olimpija enters this game on a three-game winning streak and with another win would be in a position to control its own destiny. Nanterre, the best offensive rebounding team this season (12.9 per game), has lost its last three home games and could be eliminated if it does not snap that streak in Round 9.
Action in Group D tips off on Tuesday with a clash of two already qualified teams, group leader Unicaja Malaga (6-2) and EWE Baskets Oldenburg (5-3), which arrives on a five-game winning streak, including a 13-point win in the teams' previous clash in Round 4. The teams' offenses rank among the top five in scoring, with Oldenburg's 83.8 third-best. Unicaja, which has scored 82.6 per contest, is perfect at home and can clinch first place if it wins and Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (2-6) wins at home against already-qualified Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul (5-3) on Wednesday. In-form Buducnost has won its last two games after losing its first six and hopes to carry that momentum into this tilt. Galatasaray won their first contest in overtime, however, the tiebreaker has no importance in this game. Buducnost will keep an eye on the other Wednesday game, where Asseco Arka Gdynia (3-5) hosts Dolomiti Energia Trento (3-5). Arka is winless at home this season, but a win would give it a sweep of Trento. Arka can clinch a Top 16 spot if it wins and Buducnost loses, while Trento has options to qualify, too. Trento goes to the Top 16 if it wins by 21 or more points, or if it wins by 11 and Buducnost loses against Galatasaray.