Eurocup Last 32 Round 1 recap

Eurocup Round 1 of the Eurocup Last 32 wrapped on Wednesday with fifteen games taking place around the continent on a busy night of action. The contests followed from reigning champions Valencia dominating SLUC Nancy in the round opener on Tuesday. Groups G through N were all played out by the end of the day, but there is still a long way to go and plenty of Basketball to be played.

Visiting teams gave a good account of themselves during Round 1 of the Eurocup Last 32, with seven road wins through the fifteen games. Clubs with an eye on this year’s title got off to good starts, with the likes of Lokomotiv Kuban, Lietuvos Rytas, Virtus Roma, Strasbourg, Bayern Munich, and Brose Baskets all collecting victories.

Group G
French club Strasbourg overcame Unics Kazan 72-61 in a tricky opening Group A game at home. Matt Howard propelled the hosts with 15 points and 8 rebounds as Strasbourg controlled the game by holding a lead through every split. Unics will be left to rue a slow start, especially in a tough looking group where compatriots Zenit St. Petersburg also started with a win, traveling to CEZ Nymburk and gunning down the Czech powerhouse 72-84. The Nymburk players and fans were left stunned through the first half as Zenit poured in 23 points in Q1 and Q2 to lead 34-46 through the long break. From there the visitors never looked back to start its Last 32 campaign well.

Group H
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica was shocked at home by travelling Turkish outfit Banvit Bandirma as the visitors stormed to a 68-74 win. The hosts got off to a torrid start and offered just 8 points through the buckets in the opening quarter, and despite improving could never catch Banvit again. Chuck Davis was huge for the visitors with 28 points, while Vladimir Dragicevic was a colossal presence in defence with 10 boards in the protective area. Gran Canaria romped through the first group phase and remained unbeaten, so there was little surprise when the Spaniards took out Dinamo Sassari 76-91 in Italy. An 11-23 first quarter set the tone for Gran Canaria and they controlled the hardwood for long passages and dished out 27 assists in an unselfish attacking display where Walter Tavares scored 26 points and Brad Newly notched 23 points.

Group I
Cedevita Zagreb left it late to take out guests CAI Zaragoza in the Croatian capital, with the hosts prevailing 83-80. The game was locked with the clock ticking down towards overtime, but with 1.5 seconds remaining Fran Pilepic drained from beyond the arc to win the game. Pilepic had already paced his team with a game high 23 points, so his winning contribution was a fitting finale for him and Cedevita. Virtus Roma was more comfortable in the other Group I game as the Italian club took out Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd 82-66 at home. Roma went big with a 22-8 opening ten minutes and built from there and carved out a big win against the dangerous Russian opposition.

Group J
Foxtown Cantu put 99 points on the board in an exciting encounter with Khimky Moscow Region (99-88) in Group J. The hosts hit 50% of their triple attempts, securing 12 from 24 tries, while Darius Johnson-Odom was responsible for five of them. Foxtown streamed in 34 points during the third quarter, but despite consistent scoring the game was always close because of the solid scoring of Khimky. French club Limoges also recorded a good home win with a 71-59 success over PAOK Thessaloniki, a good way to start this phase of the Eurocup. The teams were close heading into the final act, but Limoges used a 10-0 run in the fourth to ease to victory in the dying minutes. J.P. Batista topped the hosts with a double-double 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Adrien Moerman also doubled up with 12 points and 10 boards.

Group K
Brose Baskets Bamberg scalped Olimpija Union Ljubljana in Slovenia on Wednesday as the Germans came away with a 65-71 victory. It was a tough encounter though, with Brose Baskets having two big quarters, a 15-26 first and a 7-19 third, which was enough to weather a Union Olimpija storm in the fourth as the hosts put together a 30-13 run that made it very interesting down the stretch. Next week’s all-German clash between Brose Baskets and Bayern Munich will be even hotter after Bayern too won their opening Last 32 game, a 93-84 victory over visiting Dijon. The Munich contingent managed to stay one step ahead through the game, with Bo McCalebb paced the victory with 16 points.

Group L
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius downed a brace PGE Turow effort by outlasting the Polish champions to a 98-86 home victory in the Lithuanian capital. The visitors never gave up, but Lietuvos Rytas always had control and led from the opening bucket to the final buzzer. The hosts scored over 20 points in each quarter, paced by the scoring exploits of Ksistof Lavrinovic with 22 points, but six players from the Vilnius outfit logged double figures. In the other Group L game Telenet Ostend offered arguably its best performance of the season by smashing Seville 63-94 in Spain. The Belgian visitors put in a dominant display and will look to build off it in the quest for a berth in the elimination stages.

Group M
The game of the night came in Istanbul as Turkish clubs Besiktas Istanbul and Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir clashed in a derby game. The Izmir club travelled to the Besiktas cauldron and stunned their hosts with a 77-105 win, becoming the only team of the night to break a century of points. The visitors sent home 18 from downtown in a torrent of scoring that was led by Bobby Dixon with 24 points, all his haul coming from outside the arc. Neptunas Klaipeda defeated Paris-Levallois 82-73 at home, but the club needed to come back from a poor start. The hosts slipped to a 16-25 losing first stanza, but responded in the second (25-11) and went big again with a 28-18 run in the third quarter to claim the win.

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