Okapi Aalstar lead Eurochallenge winners

Okapi AalstarOkapi Aalstar went hot on Tuesday by destroying BC Astana at home in the third week of Eurochallenge Last 16 action. The Belgian club piled 108 points onto the board to see off an Astana team that had itself claimed 113 points last week. The teams clashed as part of six games taking place around Europe on Tuesday in Round 3, with a further two games wrapping the action tomorrow.

In the other contests, Le Mans and Den Bosch grabbed home wins, while Avtodor, Trabzonspor, and Enisey all travelled and celebrated victory on the road.

Group I
Okapi Aalstar took sole possession of first place in the group for one day at least with an emphatic 108-85 win over BC Astana. As the score suggests, it was a huge offensive display from the hosts as they shot 65% from the field and dished out 22 assists through the game. John Tofi led the scoring with 27 points for the winners, followed by Rotnei Clarke with 25 points. Astana were rarely in the contest as Okapi pulled away in the second half, although five players registered double figures to keep the visitors in with a chance heading into the fourth quarter.

Group J
Le Mans looked confident as they took out Usak Sportif 84-63 in France. The home club was actually trailing by 17 points at the long break, but what followed was one of the most memorable quarters in Eurochallenge history. Le Mans plundered 29 points in a strong frame, but more remarkably Usak offered nothing in return, not a single bucket. It was enough to swing the tide and give the French club a cruising game down the straight.

Group K
Avtodor Saratov travelled to Germany to square off against Fraport Skyliners and the Russians left with a 68-71 win to join their opponents on 2-1 in Group K. The visitors had carved a 30-43 lead at halftime, but spent the second half holding off a resurgent Fraport Skyliners effort. At the end of regulation, Avtodor had weathered the storm on the back of 28 defensive rebounds (40 boards overall). Micah Downs led the winning team off the bench with 14 points, but the star of the show was Skyliners guard Sean Armand with 31 points.

SPM Shoeters Den Bosch held firm during the dying seconds of the game to defeat Tartu Rock by a single points at home (78-77). It was a topsy turvy game as Tartu Rock led big through halftime, leading the scoreboard by 15 points. The visitors blew that and allowed Den Bosch to hold the advantage at the final split. In the fourth the teams went bucket for bucket before the hosts managed to close out the game in the dying embers of regulation.

Group L
Belfius Mons-Hainaut couldn’t hold of Trabzonspor at home as the Belgium club lost 56-75 and remains winless in the Eurochallenge Last 16 this season. The away team took the lead in the first quarter and never looked back, holding the hosts off through the middle quarters before powering through the final act to victory. Mons-Hainaut struggled to get cooking in attack, proven by 8 assists and just two players scoring double figures. As for Trabzonspor, they looked slicker with the power of Novica Velickovic’s 17 points. The Turkish club is now the only team with an unblemished record at this stage.

BC Enisey managed to ease past Royal Antwerp Giants despite being away from home, recording a comfortable 78-93 win. The visitors grabbed the first bucket and never relinquished the lead, even brushing off a late fourth quarter rally from the giants. Terrico White took 21 points for the winners and added 5 boards, while Elmedin Kikanovic added 18 points and Sava Lesic 14 points and 8 caroms.

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