Eurochallenge, three through to Last 16

EurochallengeAfter a week off the Eurochallenge is back as Round 4 of the competition followed from Tsmoki-Minsk’s victory over USAK to open the round last week. There were eleven games played around the continent on Tuesday while the round will be completed on Wednesday with a further four contests.

Group B
Lukoil Academic kept its hopes of qualification alive by defeating Kormend 63-76 on the road to win its first Eurochallenge game of the season. The win pushed the club to 1-3 in Group B, while Kormend slipped to 2-2. The visitors got off to the perfect start with an 11-17 winning first quarter before they pushed further with a 16-24 second quarter run to make it 27-41 at halftime. In the third quarter Kormend struck back to win the third act 23-19, but Lukoil Academic made sure of the win in the final quarter.

Tartu Rock moved to the top of the group (3-1) with a 66-59 home success over Energia TG-Jiu Rovinari, with the visiting club slipping to third and a 2-2 record. Energia took the early initiative to carve out a 12-16 lead after 10 minutes, but Tartu Rock edged a low scoring second quarter 11-8 to make it a one point game through the long break (23-24). The buckets came more readily in the second half as the teams locked 20 apiece in the third quarter before the hosts romped to victory with a 23-15 fourth quarter flurry.

Group C
The Bakken Bears have been on the end of some beatings this season and the Danish club were thrashed again in Round 4, this time losing 90-70 on the road at Boras Basket. Bakken now sits last in Group C without a win (0-4) and crash out of the Eurochallenge. The hosts started scoring consistently from the opening tip off and paced through Q1 to lead 26-17 before going big again with a 27-20 second quarter run. Leading 53-37 at halftime, Boras eased to victory in the second half.

Fraport Skyliners kept their Eurochallenge Last 16 hopes alive with a cruising 80-58 home win over Okapi Aalstar to move to 2-2. Okapi was handed its first defeat, but still tops Group C with a 3-1 record. The game opened tight as the Fraport contingent taking a 22-18 lead in the first quarter. Okapi took control in the second with a 12-20 run, but the scoreboard was narrow at the midway buzzer, reading 34-38. The hosts found a rhythm in a massive third stanza to win the period with a 27 point haul while keeping Aalstar to just 6 points! The game was won and the Skyliners eased down the stretch with a cruising fourth stint.

Group D
A century of points helped Avtodor Saratov down Tofas 66-101 on the road to push the Russians into the Last 16 with an unblemished 4-0 record. Tofas on the other hand will fight on from 1-3. A scoring opening frame saw Tofas surge into a 26-22 lead, but Avtodor were rampant in the second stanza and poured 31 points to lead 39-53 at the halftime buzzer. In the third period Tofas mustered just 7 points as the visitors kept peppering the bucket to the tune of 29 points, enough for a commanding 46-82 lead through thirty minutes. Tofas hit back to edge the fourth 20-19, but the damage had already been done.

BC Astana made sure that Oradea stayed winless in the Eurochallenge this season and sent the Romanian club crashing out of the competition with a 74-83 road win. Astana moved to second in the group with a 3-1 record. The first quarter proved vital for the visitors as they exploded to put a 17-29 run together. In the second frame Oradea edged back into the contest with a 19-15 showing, making it 36-44 at the long break. BC Astana all but sealed the win with a 17-23 winning third act before weathering a late rally from the hosts in the fourth quarter.

Group E
A big 92-63 home win over Benfica ensured that Mons-Hainaut took a step closer to the Last 16, moving to second in Group E with a 3-1 record. Portuguese powerhouse Benfica will fight another day from third and 1-3. The opening exchanges saw the teams trade the lead, but the hosts eventually emerged with a 22-21 lead, making it a one point game after 10 minutes. In the second period Benfica’s attack collapsed as Mons-Hainaut took the initiative with a 21-7 run to make it 43-28 heading to the locker room. The hosts had control of scoreboard and made it count by dictating the hardwood in the second half and easily winning the game at a canter.

Nanterre put a ton of points on the board with a 102-92 home court win over an also impressive Kataja Basket. It was an all-round fantastic game of Basketball as Nanterre booked its place in the Last 16 and stayed undefeated, while Kataja put up a huge fight but crashed out of the Eurochallenge without a victory. Nanterre had more quality in the first half and paced to a 31-16 lead after a 10 minute blitz. The visitors responded with spirit to put together a 23-28 streak in Q2, but the French club had control with the score at 54-44 during halftime. A big scoring third saw Nanterre win 25-31 to all but confirm the win, but Kataja at least made it interesting with a 23-17 winning final frame.

Group F
Gussing Knights saw off Cluj-Napoca 68-81 away from home to move closer to the next round with a 3-1 record, while the Cluj outfit were eliminated due to their 0-4 showing in Group F. The Knights took early charge of the game as they signalled their intensions with a 12-26 first quarter victory. In the second stanza Napoca found more space and won the period 17-14 to cut the deficit at the midway buzzer (29-40). The teams could not be split as they tied the third quarter 17-17, before the visitors sewed the game up by winning a high scoring fourth 25-27.

Trabzonspor said hello to the Last 16 as the Turkish club maintained its unbeaten record with a 78-82 win over Atomerömü on the road. Trabzonspor set the early rhythm and led proceedings at the first split with the scoreboard reading 16-18. The visitors yielded the lead in the second frame as Atomerömü won it 22-19 to make it a one point ball game at halftime (38-37). The Turkish club edged the third stint 17-18 to tie the scoreboard at 55 apiece through three quarters, before hitting the hosts out of the game with a winning final act.

Group G
Group G is still wide open after Le Mans downed Antwerp Giants 78-87 away from home. The win pushed the French team to 3-1 at the top of the group, while Antwerp is hanging on at the bottom of the table at 1-3. The hosts were overwhelmed by a Le Mans team in good touch during the first quarter, with the French club leading 18-25 at the first buzzer. In the second stanza the visitors extended with a 19-21 as the team headed for their coaches speech with the score at 37-46. The Giants responded well with a 29-20 run during the third frame, making it 66-66 at the final split. The Le Mans players found another gear in the fourth quarter to ease through the period and make it comfortable down the stretch with a 12-21 streak.

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