Game Center: Night of survivors
After AS Monaco won on Tuesday to become the third team to clinch a quarterfinals berth, the results of Round 5 of the Top 16’s Wednesday games set up a tantalizing Top 16 finale. Two teams claimed wins to avoid elimination and the final results leave 11 teams battling for five remaining tickets to the next stage. Monaco's win clinched for it first place in Group E, while Virtus Segafredo Bologna, which rallied to force overtime, and UNICS Kazan both remained undefeated in the Top 16 and also secured the top spots in their respective groups.
AS Monaco advanced to the quarterfinals for the second season in a row after claiming a 98-94 victory over French League foe Nanterre 92 on Tuesday at Stade Louis II. The hosts improved to 4-1 and, thanks to Unicaja Malaga's victory over Joventut Badalona later in the evening, clinched first place in Group E and home-court advantage for the quarterfinals. Dee Bost led the charge with 22 points and 5 assists, Rob Gray scored 21, Marcos Knight tallied 19 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Isaia Cordinier led five Nanterre scorers in double figures with 23 points. Nanterre fell to 2-3, but can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win by at least 6 points over Joventut in Round 6. Unicaja gained its first win of the Top 16 and denied Joventut the chance to secure a berth in the next stage with a 77-90 road win. A closely-fought first half was notable for a remarkable start from Ferran Bassas, who scored 17 points in the first quarter alone. The game stayed tightly contested, but Unicaja led for the last 12 minutes and pulled away in the final stages. Jaime Fernandez paced Unicaja with a double-double of 22 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds, supported by 22 points from Adam Waczynski. Eliminated Unicaja improved to 1-4 while Joventut fell to 3-2.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar survived a do-or-die situation by thrashing Boulogne Metropolitans 92 61-83 at Marcel Cerdan on Wednesday. Later Dolomiti Energia Trento put on a defensive clinic in routing Partizan NIS Belgrade 69-54. The results left Group F as the only one in which no team has yet clinched a quarterfinals berth. All four teams remain in contention with Trento and Metropolitans holding 3-2 records and Lokomotiv and Partizan 2-3. Nigel Williams-Goss shined for Lokomotiv with 19 points, 7 assists and a club-record 6 steals. Will Cummings added 18 for Lokomotiv. Anthony Brown led Metropolitans with 15 points. Lokomotiv led from start to finish, opening the game with an 0-8 run, leading 14-22 after 10 minutes and 28-48 at halftime. Little changed in the second half. JaCorey Williams tallied a team-high 16 points for Trento in its win, while Gary Browne had 13 points. Rashawn Thomas tallied 17 points for Partizan in the loss.
Virtus Segafredo Bologna survived a major battle and managed to knock off Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana 98-108 in overtime on the road to remain undefeated on the season. Virtus gave up a 14-point lead and then trailed by 9 points with less than 3 minutes to play before coming back to force overtime and move to 5-0 and to clinch first place in Group G. Kyle Weems paced Virtus with 25 points while Marco Belinelli scored 16 points, Milos Teodosic collected 14 points and 12 assists. Olimpija dropped its first game at home in the EuroCup to fall to 3-2 despite Jaka Blazic scoring 29 points. Buducnost VOLI Podgorica kept its qualification hopes alive with a thrilling 89-92 win at JL Bourg en Bresse, which went down to the final shot. The first half was very close, with neither team ahead by more than 5 and several lead changes before the interval arrived with Buducnost narrowly leading, 45-47. Both offenses continued to flow freely in the third quarter, which finished 69-67 to Bourg, and although Buducnost went ahead in the final quarter, Bourg never gave up until Zack Wright missed an attempt to tie the game on the final buzzer. Bourg dropped to 0-5, while Buducnost (2-3) must now beat Olimpija by more than 4 points next week to qualify. Justin Cobbs and Willie Reed led the winners with 14 points apiece. Bourg’s Zachery Peacock led all scorers with 29 points.
UNICS Kazan locked up first place in Group H by running away from MoraBanc Andorra with an 85-63 home victory. Okaro White led the way with 18 points for UNICS, which took control with a 10-0 surge in the fourth quarter to improve to 5-0 in the group. Jamar Smith added 14 points, John Brown had 13 and Isaiah Canaan scored 12 points in helping the 2011 EuroCup champion to its fifth win in six contests versus Andorra. Haukur Palsson was the only player in double figures with 18 points for Andorra, which dropped to 2-3 in the group but is still alive for a spot in the quarterfinals. Facing a must-win situation and elimination on a tough road floor, Herbalife Gran Canaria rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to beat Mornar Bar 81-85 on Tuesday night in Bar, Montenegro. Gran Canaria improved to 2-3 and Mornar dropped to 1-4; both teams still have chances to progress to the quarterfinals. Mornar led by as many as 42-29 in the second quarter, but Gran Canaria caught up behind A.J. Slaughter and Tomas Dimsa before Javier Beiran turned into an unlikely hero in the fourth quarter to lead Gran Canaria to a critical victory. Slaughter paced the winners with 22 points. Derek Needham had 17 points and 7 assists for Mornar.