With two rounds to go in the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, there are still seven Top 16 places open and no team has clinched first place yet in any of the four groups. Round 9 and Round 10 will naturally settle all those question marks, but with the caveat that no single game will directly decide any outcomes in any group. With so much at stake in so many games, here is selection of five games to watch in the final two regular-season rounds.
5. Nanterre 92 vs. Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, Round 9
Everything is on the line in this clash between two teams that share last place in Group C, but nonetheless have momentum and possibilities to make the Top 16. Nanterre looked to be on the verge of elimination before Round 8, but then went on the road to beat none other than UNICS Kazan and complicate things in the entire group. Cedevita Olimpija, on the other hand, opened the season with five losses, but never thought about throwing in the towel. It has since then has gone on a three-game winning which includes a road win at Darussafaka and a home win over UNICS. When they met in Round 4, Nanterre stole an 87-93 win behind Isaia Cordinier and Dallas Moore, but Cedevita's then-leaky defense has allowed just 70.0 points per game during its winning streak. The winner of this game will not be far from the Top 16, but defeat ends the loser's season.
4. Tofas Bursa vs. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, Round 10
Tofas is a team loaded with experienced veterans like Sammy Mejia, Matt Lojeski and Baris Ermis. It also has a true backcourt spark in Tarik Phillip, who hit a game-winning buzzer-beating three pointer when these two clashed in Round 5 in Krasnodar. Tofas is a side that might not light up the scoreboard, averaging 78.6 points, but it plays team basketball that begets a league-leading 21.5 assists per game. Tofas will have a chance to secure its playoff spot in Round 9, but if it does not, will be playing for its life in a do-or-die Round 10 rematch with the former EuroCup champions from Russia. For Lokomotiv, a perennial EuroCup contender, Round 10 will definitely be a must-win game. Lokomotiv is loaded with talent and has survived a four-game losing streak to remain alive and hold destiny in its own hands. But to make it through to the Top 16, it will need to win in Bursa in this must-see game.
3. Segafredo Virtus Bolgona vs Promitheas Patras, Round 9
There are five teams with 6-2 records in the regular season, and two of them square off in this Group A nugget. Virtus has had a great return to the competition so far, and its offense has met high expectations. Led by veteran playmakers Milos Teodosic and Stefan Markovic, Virtus ranks second in points (84.6 per game) and assists (20.4). On the other hand, few people knew what to expect from a newcomer like Promitheas, but a team with experienced players like Chris Babb and Langston Hall has produced a stellar campaign that has them leading the group and already qualified since Round 7. In this game, however, both teams will have a chance to clinch the first place. To do so, Virtus needs to win by 10 points in regulation time in order to overcome its 78-69 loss to Promitheas in Round 4. With its own victory, Promitheas would sweep Virtus, but also needs some help in the other two games in the group to secure the top spot. Throw in the atmosphere for Virtus home games in Bologna and this one has all the ingredients to be a great one.
2. Unicaja Malaga vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg, Round 9
Unicaja has had a pretty dominant regular season. It has been looking down at Group C from the top of the standings from the start, and still leads it with a 6-2 record. However, one of those two losses came at the hands of its next opponent, Oldenburd, who during a 91-78 Round 3 victory over the Spaniards led by as many as 24 points. It turned to be just a bump in a mostly smooth regular season ride for Unicaja, but for Oldenburg it started a five-game winning run that has lifted the team into the Top 16. That winning streak that is still alive. Oldenburg is one of the two hottest teams in the EuroCup, with three of its five wins having come by 12 points or more, and it ranks third in offensive production with 83.8 points per game. Oldenburg knows that if it wins the last two games, it will win Group D. Rickey Paulding, Rashid Mahalbasic and company got a huge boost with the backcourt addition of scorer Tyler Larson, and the visit to Malaga, where the hosts rarely lose, will be a great test for Oldenburg. It is a clash of two already-qualified teams with plenty to play for.
1. UNICS Kazan vs. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul, Round 10
Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, no team has qualified out of Group C. However, two teams sharing the gorup with 5-3 records – UNICS and Darussafaka – have such tiebreaker advantages that they have all but mathematically secured their Top 16 berths. As such, this head-to-head clash between former EuroCup champs will likely have very high stakes, with first place in the group very possibly on the line. Errick McCollum won their Round 5 matchup at the buzzer for UNICS, so there is also the revenge factor that Darussafaka will surely have on its while traveling to Kazan. Do not expect a high-scoring affair, as Darussafaka allows the competition's fewest points on the road, 65.5 per game, while UNICS holds opponents to the third-fewest points, 70.8, at home.