Game Center, Top 16 Round 6: Rytas in, playoff bracket set
There was only one quarterfinals pairing known heading into Round 6 of the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16: Group E winner ALBA Berlin vs. Group G runner-up Unicaja Malaga. The other three pairings were settled on Wednesday. When UNICS Kazan roared past MoraBanc Andorra, it won Group H and set up a date with fellow Russian side Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, while MoraBanc was sent to a showdown with Group F victor LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. Rytas Vilnius blasted AS Monaco to claim the final quarterfinal berth and will play the top team from Group G, Valencia Basket, in the next stage.
ALBA Berlin guaranteed itself home-court advantage for the semifinals – if it gets that far – with a 97-74 home victory over Partizan NIS Belgrade on Tuesday. Rokas Giedraitis led the way for ALBA with 19 points, while Niels Giffey had 17 points as the German side finished Group E with a 5-1 record. Luke Sikma posted 8 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. ALBA overtook LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on a tiebreaker for the best record in their half of the playoff bracket with the 23-point victory after ASVEL lost earlier in the evening. Partizan, which had been eliminated prior to the game, dropped to 2-4. Vanja Marinkovic scored 18 points in defeat. Rytas Vilnius advanced to the quarterfinals on Wednesday after surviving a do-or-die situation by downing AS Monaco 90-68 at Siemens Arena in the Lithuanian capital. Rytas finished second with a 3-3 record and is set to face Valencia Basket in the best-of-three quarterfinals. Monaco wound up third in the group with a 2-4 record and had a bitter end to a solid first-ever EuroCup experience. D.J. Seeley led the winners with 21 points and Art Parakhouski added 18 and 11 rebounds. Elmedin Kikanovic paced Monaco with 17 points. Rytas opened the game with 17-2 run, led 46-29 at halftime and never looked back.
ratiopharm Ulm handed LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne its first loss of the Top 16 with an 86-68 victory at home on Tuesday in its farewell to the competition for this season. Ismet Akpinar and Javonte Green both scored 17 points as Ulm finished Group F with a 3-3 record. ASVEL was hoping to stay undefeated knowing that its Top 16 record would potentially have an impact on home-court advantage in the latter stages of the EuroCup, but was dropped to 5-1. Mantas Kalnietis collected 16 points and 7 assists in the loss. On Wednesday, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar readied for the playoffs with an 84-58 over visiting Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt. Lokomotiv finished 4-2 and in second place in Group G, while Skyliners finished the group winless. Lokomotiv spread around the minutes and the scoring. Dragan Apic, in just his third game with the team, scored 18 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Jason Clark was the only double-digit scorer for the visitors with 13 points. Skyliners battled until leading 38-39 shortly after halftime, but Lokomotiv moved into high gear and finished the game from there with a 46-19 difference.
Valencia Basket rounded out a perfect Top 16 by topping Limoges CSP 91-84 at home on Wednesday. Valencia won its 10th straight game and finished with a 6-0 record, becoming the only team to remain undefeated throughout the entire Top 16. Limoges was fourth with a 1-5 record. Matt Thomas led the winners with 17 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting and Fernando San Emeterio added 14. Jordan Taylor produced 13 points and 13 assists in defeat. Limoges led 63-66 late in the third quarter, but Matt Thomas and San Emeterio took over right after that, allowing Valencia to keep a safe lead until the final buzzer. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade completed its 7DAYS EuroCup campaign with a 105-89 victory over 2017 champion Unicaja Malaga on Tuesday night at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Joe Ragland paced six Zvezda scorers in double figures with 17 points, 7 assists and 4 steals as the team bowed out of the competition with a 2-4 record in the Top 16, third place in Group G and an 8-8 record for the season. For Unicaja, with entered the game knowing it would face ALBA Berlin in the quarterfinals, Kyle Wiltjer scored 18. Unicaja placed second in the group with a 3-3 record.
With first place at stake, UNICS Kazan used a strong second half to pull away and beat visiting MoraBanc Andorra 72-53. Both teams finished the group with 5-1 records, but UNICS overcame MoraBanc's 6-point win from Round 2 to clinch first place and secure home-court advantage for the quarterfinals. UNICS won the second half 40-23. Raymar Morgan led the way with 16 points and 6 rebounds and Pierria Henry had 14 points and 5 assists for UNICS, which remained undefeated at home for the season. Moussa Diagne had 12 points and 6 assists for MoraBanc, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped. Zenit St. Petersburg rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit to beat Cedevita Zagreb 75-79. Zenit finished in third place with a 2-4 record, while Cedevita ended its campaign in last place at 0-6 in this stage. Jalen Reynolds scored 10 of his 17 points in the third quarter and pulled down 9 rebounds for Zenit. Toni Katic led Cedevita with 15 points and 6 assists.