The final week of the Eurocup Regular Season features 19 teams already qualified to the next round and five more places waiting to be filled. Those five free spots are divided among five groups, and with final standings to decide Last 32 groups, there is plenty to play for in two games on Tuesday and 16 more on Wednesday!
In the first of three Wednesday games, already-eliminated Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-7) welcomes a JSF Nanterre squad (3-6) that needs a win to keep alive its Last 32 hopes. In addition to victory, Nanterre also needs help from already-qualified EWE Baskets Oldenburg (4-5), which plays host to Union Olimpija Ljubljana (4-5). The visitors in that game need a victory or a Nanterre loss to qualify. Should it lose, Olimpija will also qualify if the sum of the point-difference between that defeat and a win by Nanterre is less than 7 points. Nanterre will qualify if it wins by 6 or more points and Olimpija loses, or if the point-difference of its victory and the point-difference of Olimpija’s loss is 7 or more points. Finally, in a winner-take-all clash that will determine first place in the standings, Dominion Bilbao Baskets (7-2) puts its five-game winning streak on the line when Dolomiti Energia Trento (7-2) pays a visit. Trento is on a winning-streak, too, having won four in a row and its last three road games. Bilbao makes 10.2 three-pointers per game, fifth-best in the Eurocup, and is one of only four teams that hits 40%or more of its shots from the arc. Trento is ranked third in scoring (87.1) in the competition.
Needing a win to qualify to the Last 32, ALBA Berlin (4-5) welcomes Enel Basket Brindisi (1-8) to the German capital. Both teams come into the game on losing streaks. ALBA has dropped four in a row after starting the season 4-1, while Brindisi has been defeated in the last three games by an average of 21.7 points. If it loses, ALBA would need already-qualified MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (6-3) to defeat visiting Le Mans Sarthe Basket (3-6) in a game that tips off simultaneously on Wednesday in southern Germany. If ALBA loses and Le Mans wins, it would be Le Mans going to the Last 32. In the group’s last game, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (6-3) hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (7-2) in a battle for first place. To finish on top of the group, Reggio Emilia needs to win by 10 or more points in order to overcome its 76-67 loss to Gran Canaria in Round 5. Should Ludwigsburg win, howver, a victory by any total be enough for Reggio Emilia to finish first because it would have the best head-to-head record (3-1) in a three-team tie with Gran Canaria (2-2) and Ludwigsburg (1-3). Expect Gran Canaria’s offense – which ranks third in offensive rebounding (13.3), fourth in three-pointers made (10.3), and fifth in points scored (84.6) – to have a say in all this, too.
On Tuesday, SLUC Nancy (2-7) hosts ratiopharm Ulm (3-6). While Ulm qualifies with a win, Nancy would need its own victory combined with a loss by another Last 32 hopeful, Proximus Spirou Charleroi (3-6), in its visit to unbeaten group leader Valencia Basket (9-0). In a potential three-team tie of teams holding 3-7 records, Nancy would finish ahead of Ulm and Spirou due to its 3-1 record against those teams. For Spirou to qualify, Nancy first needs to win on Tuesday, and then Spirou must beat Valencia. In a clash of a pair of Last 32-bound teams, second place CAI Zaragoza (6-3) welcomes Umana Reyer Venice (4-5). CAI will be going for a sweep of Venice after its 77-79 road victory in Round 5. CAI allows just 71 points per game on its home floor, while Venice ranks near the bottom in scoring away from home, with 70.3 points per contest.
Four teams already booked for the next round go head-to-head to decide the group’s final standings this week. All four teams can win the group. On Tuesday, Aris Thessaloniki (6-3) looks for a victory against visiting Banvit Bandirma (5-4) that would clinch first place for the hosts. Aris holds a perfect 4-0 record and allows a league-low 65.8 points at home. If Banvit wins, however, then Unics Kazan (6-3) gets a chance to win Group D with victory on the road against Trabzonspor Medical Park (5-4) on Wednesday. If Banvit and Trabzonspor both win, those two teams also have a chance to be first, but that is when numerous combinations come into play. Banvit needs to win by 4 points to be ahead of Aris and by 29 points to be ahead of Unics. However, that 29-point number decreases by one for each point Unics losses to Trabzonspor. On the other hand, Trabzonspor needs to win by at least 19 to be ahead of Unics, but to be first also needs to beat Unics by 8 more points than the margin of Banvit over Aris, if that happens. In the case of a loss, Unics stays ahead of Trabzonspor with a loss by less than 19 points, and ahead of Banvit if the sum of its loss and Banvit’s win is not bigger than 29 points. Also on Wednesday, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (3-6) faces Steaua Eximbank Bucharest (2-7) in the last Eurocup game for both sides this season. Buducnost has been stellar on defense at home, ranking right behind Aris by allowing just 67.8 points per game, while Steaua is last in scoring on the road, averaging a mere 65.3 points. In Round 5, Steaua defeated Buducnost 81-75 in the Romanian capital.
Already-eliminated Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (2-7) hosts PAOK Thessaloniki (4-5), which can qualify for Last 32 with a win in the Lithuanian capital. PAOK, which scores just 69.5 points on the road, the league’s third-lowest average, can also go through if Besiktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (3-6) loses at home to first-place Zenit St. Petersburg (8-1). Besiktas has lost five in a row, a streak that includes two home loses and an average margin of defeat of 13 points. If it wants to see the next phase, Besiktas needs to snap that streak, but also needs Rytas to beat PAOK. In a clash of the teams going to the Last 32 for the first time ever, second-place Avtodor Saratov (6-3) hosts Szolnoki Olaj (4-5). Avtdor leads the Eurocup in scoring (93.7) and three-point shooting, making 10.9 triples on 45.2% accuracy. Avtodor has won its last three home games by an average of 16.3 points and hopes to avenge 83-79 road loss against Szolnoki from Round 5.
Two teams fight for one remaining Last 32 spot in Group F. Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (4-5) pays a visit to already-eliminated Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-8) needing a win to keep its Last 32 hopes alive. AEK Athens (4-5) plays hosts to already-qualified Neptunas Klaipeda (6-3), and also needs a win to keep its chances to advance. However, neither Jerusalem nor AEK hold destiny in their own hands, but depend on the outcome of the game in which Nizhny Novgorod (5-4) hosts group leader Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (7-2). To qualify, Jerusalem needs to win and needs Nizhny to win, too. For AEK and Loukas Mavrokefalidis – the Eurocup’s scoring (23.9 points) and index rating (31.0 PIR) leader – to reach the Last 32, they need to win in Round 10 and hope either Nizhny or Jerusalem lose. Meanwhile, Galatasaray – which ranks second in scoring (88.0) – needs a victory to secure first place in the group. If it loses, and Neptunas wins in the Greek capital, it will be Neptunas that will claim the top spot in the group.
Follow the finish of an exciting Eurocup Regular Season on Eurosport and Eurocupbasketball.
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