In what proved to be a massive week in Europe, three teams boasting Australians took to the court in their respective National Cup finals, with Jock Landale and Mathiang playing large roles in securing mid-season silverware.
Partizan Belgrade rolled into the Serbian Cup final and earned the chance to defend their 2018 title following a 83-71 victory against FMP Zeleznik. In a tight contest, it was Partizan that would pull away late, with Landale helping spark a 10-2 run in the final period. The 6’11 centre would finish with 18 points and 9 rebounds to play a pivotal role in setting up the decider againt rivals Crvena Zvezda.
Landale would play the hero in the final, a contest that was played hard and physical which went all the way down to the wire. The final minute had fans on the edge of their seats, with the lead changing three times on three straight triples. Zvezda found themselves at the charity stripe late but would miss both, but miraculously came up with the ball and eventually making a put-back to tie up the scores with just 1.2 seconds to play. Enter Landale.
After calling timeout and advancing the ball for one more shot at victory, Partizan’s Bandja Sy lobbed the ball to Landale who went up strongly but had his arm pulled down and a foul resulted. With ice running through his veins, Landale calmly sank both to lift Partizan to 76-74 lead. On the final play, Landale denied the lob pass to ensure a thrilling victory and back-to-back Serbian Cups for his club.
Landale backed up his impressive semi-final showing with 18 points to be one of the best performed players of the tournament.
Mangok Mathiang was also brilliant in helping Vanoli Cremona in their Italian Cup campaign. The former Charlotte Hornet big man came up big in their semi-final win against Virtus Bologna, delivering a 19-point and 10-rebound double-double to power his side to a 102-91 result.
Cremona were able to get the early ascendancy against Happy Casa Brindisi in the final. Holding an 8-point lead at half-time, Cremona pushed ahead in the second half to maintain a mostly double figure lead en route to a first ever Italian Cup title, prevailing 83-74.
Mathiang capped a memorable event with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the final, and once again anchored the middle effectively in protecting the rim and making like difficult for his opponnents.
While Landale and Mathiang lifted silverware, Brock Motum’s Anadolu Efes Istanbul went close to replicating their success. With Motum sitting out the games on the sidelines, Efes advanced to the final after accounting for
Besiktas Istanbul 78-70. They would then face fellow EuroLeague rivals Fenerbahce Istanbul in the final, but again without Motum, were unable to win back-to-back titles, going down 70-80.