After a break for the FIBA World Cup qualifying window, the European leagues were all back in action across the past week. Just like they did in college, Xavier Cooks and Jock Landale were in the limelight in helping lead their respective teams to victory.
Xavier Cooks continued his excellent debut pro season with s.Oliver Würzburg in the German Bundesliga. The former Winthrop star helped Würzburg hold off Eisbären Bremerhaven, earning a tight 2 point road win. After leading by a narrow margin for most of the game, it was Würzburg who came up with the big plays down the stretch for the win, with Cooks converting a massive alley-oop slam with just 2 minutes to play before Cameron Wells scored the game-winner 10 seconds left to ensure the 87-85 win.
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The 6’8 Cooks finished with 19 points on a sizzling 8-9 shooting, including a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and 8-9 from the free throw line. He also added 6 rebounds and 2 assists in his 27 minutes. Averaging 8.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, Cooks has been one of the most consistent performers from down under in Europe this season.
Former Saint Mary’s standout Jock Landale returned to action in the EuroCup with Partizan Belgrade hosting Spanish side Valencia. An 8-0 run by the visitors to open the game had the home side on the back foot early. They gradually inched their way back into the contest, taking the lead in the second term and a 2 point half time advantage. Valencia would lift their defense in the second half, holding Partizan to just 25 second half points in running out 69-61 winners and consigning their opponents to a 2-6 record. Landale was just one of two players to score in double figures for the home side, adding 14 points on 6-9 shooting with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
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Landale and Partizan would bounce back with a convincing 97-84 road win against Igokea in the Adriatic League. The Melburnian was at his efficient best in adding 17 points on 5-6 shooting, including 6-8 from the charity stripe. He also pulled down 9 rebounds in another consistent, big performance in which he also drained a perfect 1-1 from long-range. His team is now 5-5 on the season and just outside the top 4 in the standings.
Also in the Adriatic League, first year pro Duop Reath came off the bench to add 7 points (3-6 FG) in 15 minutes for FMP Belgrade in their narrow 82-84 loss to Mornar Bar. FMP trailed early, but lifted down the stretch as they tried to chase down the margin for the win. While they clawed to within 1 point with 10 seconds left, a possible game-winning attempt never materialised as the home side turned it over on the final possession.
Real Madrid stole a thrilling 84-82 come-from-behind win to upset Brock Motum’s Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the EuroLeague. The home side let slip a 14 point lead in the final quarter, as the Spanish superpower roared home down the stretch behind the heroics of Mexican big man Gustavo Ayon. Motum was used sparingly off the bench, playing just 7 minutes for 2 points (1-1 FG) and 1 rebound as his side registered just their 3rd loss of the competition.
Crailsheim took on Brose Bamburg and would be taken down 77-93 in the German Bundesliga. A 23-12 burst by Bamburg in the second period did the damage, consigning the Merlins to their sixth straight defeat and to the bottom of the standings. Ben Madgen started and was only able to provide 6 points on 3-9 shooting, also adding 7 rebounds.
Mangok Mathiang played his role as Vanoli Cremona enjoyed an 87-68 win against Alma Trieste in the Italian Serie A. A 26-17 final quarter run by the home team saw them prevail in an otherwise tight contest. Mathiang played 28 minutes for 9 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocked shots as he owned the paint defensively. The win ensured they stayed tied for third place in the standings.