Eurocup, four more reach Last 32

EurocupThe Last 32 places are filling up now as the Eurocup entered its eighth round of action in the 2014/2015 season, and it proved to be another exciting two days of high stakes Basketball. As well as more teams adding their names to the line-up for the next round, there were also more clubs being knocked out as the Eurocup was at its ruthless best.

Group A
CAI Zaragoza placed itself in the chasing pack of teams in Group A with a big 90-75 home win over Telekom Baskets Bonn in Spain. The hosts moved to 3-5 in the table, locking with Bonn and Paris-Levallois. The first two quarters of the game ended with the same score, as Zaragoza put a 24-16 run together in both frames to lead 48-32 at halftime. The hosts suffered a setback by losing the third period 21-23 before easing to the victory by edging the fourth quarter.

French club Strasbourg continued to dominate the group by downing Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia 74-66 at home. The win put Strasbourg on a 7-1 record, while Italian visitors Emilia are getting cut adrift at the bottom of the table with a 2-6 record. Reggio Emilia had the better of the opening stint to edge it 16-17 after ten minutes of play, but Strasbourg soon hit back with a 21-19 second quarter to make it 37-36 through halftime. A 22-14 streak in the third stanza all but settled the game, allowing Strasbourg to ride a losing final act.

Brose Baskets Bonn qualified for the Last 32 on Tuesday with a 56-67 road win over Paris-Levallois and ensured at least second place in Group A. Paris on the other hand fights in the mix below the German club with a 3-5 record. Paris set the early pace and took a 16-14 Q1 lead, before the Bonn contingent struck back to make it 31-32 through the long break. The visitors exploded with a game defining 13-27 third period and romped to victory down the stretch in the fourth.

Group B
Foxtown Cantu stayed alive in Group B with a big 79-69 home win over Lyon ASVEL in Italy to put them above their French opponents in fourth place, both teams locked on 3-5. ASVEL used a big opening attack to set up a 16-25 score on the board after 10 minutes. Lyon’s control slipped in the second frame as the Cantu team hit back with a 19-11 flurry (35-36). The one point lead was extended as the French team won the third frame to make it 47-54 with ten minutes left. The hosts went big, pouring in 32 points in the last quarter to comeback to win the game.

A narrow contest between Telenet Ostend and Artland Dragons Quackenbrueck saw the Belgian hosts win 84-82 in the dying seconds. The win puts Ostend in control of their destiny with a 4-4 record in third place, while the Dragons are on a knife edge bottom of the group at 1-7. The German visitors won the first quarter 19-24 and locked the second 23 apiece to make it 42-47 at halftime. The Dragons added to their lead with a 17-19 winning third period, but Ostend came back in the fourth stint and won the game in the last second by going 100% from the charity strip.

Gran Canaria remained untouched in the Eurocup this season as the Spanish club consolidated its position at the top of Group B with a crushing 94-60 home win over Dijon. The club had already qualified, but Dijon still holds sole possession of second place with a 5-3 record. Gran Canaria led throughout as they won the first frame 21-12 and the second 28-11 to have a dominating 26 point lead (49-23) at the midway point. A cruising second half followed as the hosts won the third stanza 19-12 before edging a high scoring final act 26-25.

Group C
Proximus Spirou Charleroi kept Group C tight with a 67-73 win over CEZ Nymburk, the clubs’ first road win of this Eurocup season. Spirou moved to 3-5, but still needs to win its final games to catch Nymburk on a 4-4 record. The Czech powerhouse took the early initiative with a 19-18 flurry in the first quarter, but the teams had traded buckets through the opening stint. Spirou found an advantage in the second quarter to carve out a 30-33 lead at the midway point. In the third stint the visitors built on their momentum with a 13-18 winning period and then took a big fourth quarter 24-22 to seal the win.

Group C’s second placed club SLUC Nancy consolidated its position (now at 5-3) with a comfortable 71-85 road win over EWE Baskets Oldenburg. The German hosts slipped to bottom of the group with a 2-6 record, but can still qualify for the Last 32. Nancy sent out a message in the first quarter by leading the game 13-23 at the first interval. EWE Baskets managed to stop the surge and won the second frame 21-19 to make it 34-42 heading to the locker room. The French visitors found their touch in the third quarter with a big 22-27 charge, before cruising through the final minutes to win the game.

After sealing qualification to the next round last week, Italian club Virtus Roma took the foot off the gas and lost 98-80 on the road to a fine Seville effort. Seville is looking increasingly good for its own spot in the Last 32 with a 4-4 record in third place. The hosts streamed in 30 points in the first quarter to lead 30-21 at the first split, and an 18-14 second quarter gave the Spaniards control of the scoreboard through the long break (48-35). Seville went big again to win Q3 28-21 before weathering a losing fourth quarter on the way to a comfortable win.

Group D
The two top teams in Group D clashed on Wednesday as Khimki Moscow Region qualified for the next round with an 82-78 home win over Turkish club Besiktas, who already qualified last week. A 17-0 run through the end of the first quarter and start of the second gave the Russian club a commanding 42-28 advantage at halftime. The hosts looked in complete control after an 18-15 run in the third made it 60-43 through thirty minutes. However, Besiktas went hot in the fourth quarter and nailed 35 points, but still fell short.

Group D is done and dusted after this week’s action as both Zenit St. Petersburg and Union Olimpija Ljubljana found a passage to the last 32 of the competition. Union Olimpija hit 14 from beyond the arc to cruise past Szolnoki Olaj 89-67 in Ljubljana, sending the Olaj outfit out of the competition. In the other game, Zenit swept past Latvian powerhouse VEF Riga 66-74 on the back of a big second quarter.

Group E
CSU Asesoft Ploiesti handed Banvit Bandirma its second defeat, snapped a three game losing streak, and put a foot in the Last 32 with an 84-74 home win. The Romanians now sit fourth with a 4-4 record, while Banvit is already qualified for the next stage. The hosts surged into a 21-16 lead through 10 minutes and then extended with a big 32-26 winning second quarter to have an 11 point cushion at 53-42. Banvit finally found some space and won the third stint 10-15 to make it interesting heading into the fourth quarter with the score reading 63-57. Ploiesti had too many points in the bank though and built on their advantage to win the game in the ultimate act.

Partizan NIS Belgrade slipped out of the Eurocup with a poor 64-83 home loss to Hapoel Jerusalem, a loss that sums up Partizan’s season. The Belgrade giant sits bottom of Group E with a 1-7 record, while Jerusalem is hanging by a thread with a 2-6 record in fifth. The Israel team managed to carve out a one point advantage at the end of Q1, the scoreboard reading 14-15. In the second stint Partizan retook the lead with a 23-20 run to make it 37-35 through the long break. Hapoel exploded in the third period with 27 points and held Partizan to just 16 to lead 53-62 with just one quarter remaining. The visitors extended further with a massive fourth quarter and put the Belgrade hosts to the sword.

Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd made its way to the Last 32 by downing Group E leaders Lietuvos Rytas 82-91 on the road, both clubs taking their place in the next round. The teams traded baskets through the first quarter, but the Russian visitors managed to move to a 20-21 at the first break buzzer. In the second stanza the Volgograd team moved further in front with a 15-23 flurry that made it 35-44 as the teams headed to the team talk. In Q3 Krasny sealed the deal with a 15-22 winning frame before surviving a 32-25 flurry by the hosts to close the game.

Group F
Buducnost Voli Podgorica took its qualification hopes into its own hand with a big 100-85 home win over Stelmet Zielona Gora, putting the only century score on the board this week. The club now sits in fourth place in Group F with a 3-5 record, while Stelmet ZG is already out of the competition. Buducnost started on fire and laid a marker with a 26-15 winning first stanza. In the second act the Polish visitors edged proceedings with a 22-26 run to make it 48-41 through the midway break. The hosts went big in the second half with a 27-26 third quarter and a game winning 25-18 streak in the closing frame.

Already qualified Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar stayed undefeated in the Eurocup this season, moving to 8-0 on the summit of Group F after a 54-68 road win over Greek team PAOK Thessaloniki. PAOK is still on course for the Last 32 at 4-4, but the hosts struggle to get going here, scoring just 10 points in the first quarter to hand Lokomotiv a seven point advantage. In the second period the Greek players hit back to edge it 19-18, the scoreboard reading 29-35 through halftime. The third quarter could not be decided as the teams locked for 16 apiece, before Lokomotiv confirmed the win with a 10-18 final stint.

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