The Eurocup eighthfinals come to an end this week. All eight teams which plays on the road return home – some to defend a lead in their two-way series, some other to try to rally and advance to the quarterfinals, and two archrivals – FC Bayern Munich and ALBA Berlin – which tied in the German capital and are in a do-or-die, winner-takes-all showdown. Four games will be played on Tuesday, followed by four more on Wednesday
Eighthfinal A: FC Bayern Munich vs ALBA Berlin
Both teams have been seeing each other a lot lately – ALBA and Bayern face for the fourth time in 10 weeks in three different competitions – the German Cup, the Eurocup and the German League. The fact that the series is tied and only the winner will survive adds more anticipation to this exciting showdown. ALBA had an excellent two-point shooting percentage (68.6%) but needs to improve his performance from beyond the arc (4-of-18, 22.2%). Other then limiting ALBA’s two-point shooting, Bayern must cut down turnovers – 18 in Game 1. Eldemin Kikanovic led ALBA in Berlin with 24 points. Dusko Savanovic led 5 Bayern players in double digits with 15 points.
Eighthfinal B: Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas vs. Limoges CSP
Gran Canaria will try to make the most out of its 17-point lead in the series. Gran Canaria has been rock-solid at home, winning 23 of its last 25 games in front of its fans in Eurocup action. The only two teams able to beat Gran Canaria at home were Khimki Moscow Region in last season’s Eurocup finals, 66-91, and French side Strasbourg, which registered a 76-85 win at Gran Canaria arena in the Last 32 this season. Limoges already beat a Spanish team, three-time Eurocup champion Valencia Basket, by 20 points on the road. Last week in Beaublanc, Sasu Salin paced Gran Canaria with 18 points while D.J. Seeley added 16. Leo Westermann and Nobel Boungou-Colo each had 13 points for Limoges.
Eighthfinal C: EWE Baskets Oldenburg vs. Strasbourg
Everything can happen in this series, as EWE Baskets Oldenburg held off Strasbourg 74-76 on the road in Game 1 behind 24 points from Rickey Paulding. For Strasbourg, this was the third consecutive loss in the competition after winning four in a row to start the Last 32. Strasbourg outrebounded Oldenburg by 42-30, pulling down 16 offensive boards and allowing just 4 in the other gladd, in which could be a big key for Game 2. Oldenburg will need to shoot better from downtown after hitting just 6 of 23 three-point shots in Game 1. Rodrigue Beaubois led Strasbourg with 17 points. Expect a game played point to point, possession to possession, as both teams try to reach the Eurocup Quarterfinals for the first time.
Eighthfinal D: EA7 Emporio Armani Milan vs. Banvit Bandirma
Milan has a three-point lead in the series and hosts Game 2. A fallaway jumper by Krunoslav Simon – who had 7 points in the final 2 minutes, including a pair of go-ahead shots – and a final basket by Daniele Magro gave Milan the edge in the series. Rakim Sanders led five Milan scorers in double figures with 19 points and 4 steals. Courtney Fortson paced Banvit with 18 points, 7 assists and 4 steals. Banvit dominated the boards, outrebounding its opponents by 40-33, and forced Milan to pick up 19 turnovers. Banvit is the worst free throw shooter in the competition, 67.6%, and did even worse (60.7%) in Game 1, in which could be critical in what promises to be a very close Game 2.
Eighthfinal E: Dolomiti Energia Trento vs. CAI Zaragoza
A big basket by Tomas Bellas with 0.7 seconds left broke a tie as CAI Zaragoza edged Dolomiti Energia Trento 85-83. The series concludes in Italy, where Trento must win by a minimum of 3 points to extend its fantastic Eurocup debut season. Bellas and Slava Kravtsov led CAI with 14 points apiece, while Julian Wright scored 22 for Trento. CAI shot better from all distances but especially from the free throw line (CAI 84.6%, Trento 62.5%). With Filipo Baldo Rossi, Wright and Davide Pascolo – 19 points – stepped up big. Trento pulled down 13 offensive boards and picked up just 8 turnovers. Trento has a 6-2 home record in the Eurocup and led the Last 32 in steals (10.3 spg.). Both teams are newcomers at this level and only one of them will make history by reaching the quarterfinals.
Eighthfinal F: Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny has a 26-point lead in the series after thrashing Zenit 102-76 in Game 1. Nizhny dished 25 assists against just 8 turnovers compared to Zenit’s 13 assists and 16 turnovers. It downed 12-of-26 three-point shots for an excellent 46.2% and picked up 12 steals, an all-time high for Nizhny in the Eurocup. Eurocup history gives Zenit some chance, as Caprabo Lleida rallied from a 26-point Game 1 deficit against Makedonikos. Lleida lost 89-63 in Game 1 but rallied with a 90-58 vicyory in front of its fans. Victor Rudd had 28 points to lead Nizhny in Game 1 while Ivan Strebkov added 21 – both of them had Eurocup caree-high scoring efforts. Janis Timma pulled down 17 rebounds for Zenit, tying the 2015-16 Eurocup season high.
Eighthfinal G: Unics Kazan vs. Stelmet Zielona Gora
Unics Kazan rallied to defeat Stelmet Zielona Gora 68-72 and hosts Game 2. Unics has the longest active winning streak in the competition, 9, and has not lost in Eurocup action since early December. Quino Colom finished Game 1 with 17 points and 11 assists. Langford scored 19 points, and Williams collected 15 points plus 8 rebounds for Unics. Mateusz Ponitka scored 21 for Zielona Gora. Both teams had good assist-to-turnover ratios in Game 1 (Zielona Gora 13-8, Unics 19-10) but Zielona Gora need much better shooting percentages (45% 2FG, 30.4% 3FG) in order to advance. Zielona Gora knows what it takes to win in Kazan – it downed Unics 76-91 in the 2012-13 Eurocup regular season.
Eighthfinal H: Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul vs. Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir
Karsiyaka edged Galatasaray 67-64 Game 1 in front of a great, noisy crowd. Colton Iverson paced Karsiyaka with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kenny Gabriel had 13 points, 5 assists and 3 steals in that victory. Errick McCollum amassed 21 points and 13 rebounds for Galatasaray. Neither team shot the ball well from downtown (Karsiyaka 18.2%, Galatasaray 20.8%), so that is a critical point for both squads to improve. Karsiyaka pulled down 16 offensive rebounds and had 10 steals, and it will need the same level of hustle against Galatasaray, which had 9 blocks and 32 defensive boards in Game 1. Expect nothing but a very physical game, as Galatasaray looks for its 8th win in 9 home games while Karsiyaka goes for its second consecutive road triumph.
Follow the dramatic end of the Eurocup Eighthfinals and all upcoming rounds on Eurosport or right here at Eurocupbasketball.com! / photo CAI Zaragoza – Esther Casas