Tofas Bursa started its third 7DAYS EuroCup campaign with one and only one goal: to make it to the Top 16, once and for all. In the last two seasons, Tofas has amassed a respectable 9-11 record, but has not been able to get past the first group stage. Last season, it all came down to a regular season Round 9 showdown against Limoges CSP in which Tofas would have qualified - and eliminated its opponent - with a win. Limoges prevailed, 92-98, and ended up reaching the Top 16 with another win against Arka Gdynia in regular season Round 10.
As Limoges returned to Bursa for both teams' EuroCup season opener, Tofas was ready to bounce back. The hosts dominated the game from top to bottom, taking a 25-15 lead after 10 minutes, extending it to 65-49 at the end of the third quarter and cruising to an important first win. Important, indeed, but not critical; Tofas won its home opener in the previous two seasons but that didn't help the club qualify for the Top 16.
Assists were the big key to this game. Tofas dished 24 - just 2 less than its club record - and limited Limoges to just 13. Two of its players stood out by passing the ball well. One of them, literally better than ever. Tarik Phillip made his EuroCup debut and send a message to all potential opponents. He narrowly missed a triple-double, getting 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7assists. Matt Lojeski returned to the EuroCup for the first time since the 2012-13 season. In his first EuroCup games in almost seven years, Lojeski had 15 points and 8 assists - a new career-high in 150 EuroLeague and EuroCup games combined.
Not everything was perfect - Tofas allowed 13 offensive rebounds and shot poorly from downtown (5-of-16, 31.3%), but it's on the right track to be very competitive and to fight for that elusive Top 16 berth.