After still-undefeated Valencia Basket of Group C became the first Last 32 qualifier a week ago, three 5-1 teams and exclusive group leaders – Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, Zenit St. Petersburg and Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul – try in Reuglar Season Round 7 to clinch their own spots in the next phase. One of them can do so among four big Tuesday games, the rest after knowing all the results of 14 games on Wednesday!
In Group A’s first game in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Tuesday, Union Olimpija Ljubljana (2-4) hosts JSF Nanterre (3-3) as both clubs are in dire need of victory. Olimpija has lost four of its last five games, including its last two at home, while Nanterre dropped three of its last four. In the first of two Wednesday games, EWE Baskets Oldenburg (3-3) puts its three-game winning streak on the line against visiting newcomer Dolomiti Energia Trento (4-2). Oldenburg has won its three games by a combined margin of 11 points. Trento ranks third in scoring (84.7) and no Eurocup team has more points in the last three rounds (87.0). Group co-leader Dominion Bilbao Basket (4-2) looks for its first Group A home win when it plays hosts to Telekom Baskets Bonn (2-4). All of Bilbao’s victories have come away from home and the team boasts the most prolific three-point shooting in the competition, making 11.3 triples per game. Bonn has dropped its last three games and four of its last five, a streak that started in Round 2 with an 81-90 home loss against Bilbao.
In a major clash at the top of the group on Tuesday, MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (4-2) hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas (5-1), which can qualify to the Last 32 with a win. Ludwigsburg is on a three-game winning streak, but history is not in its favor prior to this game. The two teams have previously played three games and Gran Canaria has cruised by double digits each time, including its 95-75 home win five weeks ago. Gran Canaria is one of four teams averaging more than 10 three-point shots per game (10.2). On Wednesday, Le Mans Sarthe Basket (1-5) hosts Enel Basket Brindisi (1-5) in a must win game for both teams. While Le Mans is trying to snap its four-game slide, Brindisi is coming off its first-ever Eurocup win last week. Also on Wednesday, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia (3-3) looks to protect its home floor against ALBA Berlin (4-2). Reggio Emilia is undefeated in two home games, where it is shooting well from long range, ranking third among all home teams with 11.5 triples made. ALBA won their Round 2 match, and another win against the same opponent would all but secure its place in the next round.
In a showdown of two Spanish sides and the top two teams in the group, CAI Zaragoza (4-2) will have a new coach as it hosts already-qualified Valencia Basket (6-0) on Tuesday. In the Spanish League, the two sides have split regular season series in each of the past four seasons. Valencia won their Round 2 clash 87-66 and enters this game with Eurocup’s best defense, holding opponents to just 66.3 points. CAI, however, allows opponents just 64.5 points on home floor, third-lowest in the league. While the visitors will look to remain the lone unbeaten team in the competition, CAI can qualify for the next phase if it wins and a day later Proximus Spirou Charleroi and SLUC Nancy both lose. Nancy (1-5) welcomes Umana Reyer Venice (3-3) in a must-win game. Only one team scores fewer than Nancy’s 69.8 points per game, but Venice is the worst scoring team on the road, with an average of 63.5. Proximus Spirou Charleroi (1-5) pays a visit to ratiopharm Ulm (3-3). Ulm beat Spirou 80-86 in Round 2 and has never lost a home game against a team from Belgium. The visitors are the worst scoring team in the competition (68.5), but snapped their losing streak last week, and now hope to build on it with a help of big man Kevin Tumba, who leads the Eurocup in rebounds (10.2) and ranks second in blocks (2.5).
Among three games on Wednesday, Unics Kazan (4-2) hosts Banvit Bandirma (3-3) in a high-profile clash to open the group’s action. Unics holds a 5-0 record in head-to-head meetings with Banvit, all this decade, including a 79-85 decision in Bandirma earlier this season. Since that Round 2 game, however, Banvit has won three of four, and in the last three weeks has scored 86.7 points on average. In addition, Banvit is leading the competition by pulling down 16.2 offensive rebounds per game. Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (2-4) welcomes group co-leader Aris Thessaloniki (4-2) to the Montenegran capital for its first official visit there. Buducnost has committed Eurocup-high 100 turnovers through six games, and will need to cut down on that average of 16.7 against Aris, which makes only 11.5 turnovers per contest and holds opponents to a league-low 24.5% three-point shooting. In a battle of newcomers, Trabzonspor Medical Park (3-3) hosts Steaua CSM Eximbank Bucharest (2-4). Trabzonspor has won all three of its home games so far, while Steaua is still waiting for a first road victory, but defeated Trabzonspor 76-71 in their first meeting back in Round 2.
The best scoring team in the competition, Avtodor Saratov (4-2), hosts Beisktas Sompo Japan Istanbul (3-3) for the first of three Group F games on Wednesday. Newcomer Avtodor beat Besiktas 79-103 five weeks ago in Istanbul, and is the only team that posts more than 90 points per contest through six rounds (90.3). Nonetheless, in its two home games so far, Avtodor has one win and one defeat. Besiktas has lost its last two games by an average of 17.5 points. Next, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (2-4) and Gound 6 co-MVP Ksistof Lavrinovic take on visiting Szolnoki Olaj (2-4). Rytas looks to build on the momentum of its victory last week in what was new head coach Aurimas Jasilionis’s debut on the bench. No team distributes the ball better (19.7 assists per game), makes more steals (9.0) or forces more turnovers (18.3) than Rytas. Meanwhile, Szolnoki has the Eurocup’s second-highest turnover rate, 16.5 per game. PAOK Thessaloniki (2-4) hosts group leader Zenit St. Petersburg (5-1) which can clinch a Last 32 spot with a victory. PAOK has lost four of its last five games, while the visitors are perfect 3-0 on the road so far.
In a pivotal clash on Tuesday, Neptunas Klaipeda (3-3) will try to distance itself from visiting Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (2-4) and in so doing, get closer to the Last 32. No team scores more points on its home floor than Neptunas (89.7), while Jerusalem has but a single victory in the last 12 road games dating back to the 2013-14 season. In an all-Russian clash, Nizhny Novgorod (3-3) hosts last-place Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (1-5) and D.J. Copper who is the only player in the competition who averages double-digit assists (10.2). Nizhny is dangerous from long range, as it makes 10.3 triples per game, tied for second-best in the competition. Nizhny also does not allow opponents much from behind the arc, keeping them to a mere 5.2 triples per contest, while Oktyabr does well in that department away from home, making 9 three-pointers per game and averaging 92 points. In a high-profile clash in the Greek capital, AEK Athens (4-2) and the Round 6 co-MVP Loukas Mavrokefalidis host Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (5-1). Mavrokefalidis is Eurocup’s leader in index rating (32-5), and scoring (24.8). Galatasaray is the second best scoring team (86.8), and commits least turnovers (10.7) through six games, and enters this game knowing a win combined with a Jerusalem loss would send it through to the Last 32.
Follow all the fun of Regular Season Round 7 on Eurosport and Eurocupbasketball.com!
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