In one the biggest weeks in European basketball, Brock Motum and Anadolu Efes Istanbul advanced to the EuroLeague final only to come up short in the championship game, while star centre Jock Landale has signed with Lithuanian giants Zalgiris Kaunas for the 2019/2020 season.
After returning from a hamstring injury just a week earlier, Motum helped Anadolu Efes Istanbul advance to the EuroLeague final courtesy of a 73-92 victory over Turkish cross-town rivals Fenerbahce. He posted an impressive 9 points, including a perfect 2-2 from three-point territory, alongside 4 rebounds in just 13 minutes off the bench.
Taking on Russian superpower CSKA Moscow in the final, Efes remained in the contest until late. However behind some ridiculously hot three-point shooting by CSKA led by Will Clyburn (20 points, 4-6 3PT) and Cory Higgins (20 points, 4-5 3PT), Efes would fall short 83-91 to end what was an excellent EuroLeague campaign.
CSKA shot 53.1% from inside the arc and a crazy-good 63.6% (14-22) from beyond it. Efes on the other hand were restricted to just 37.5% shooting from two-point range and 36.7% (11-30) from long-range. Motum provided 4 points and 3 rebounds in 10 minutes, playing on-looker as CSKA pulled away in the fourth period enroute to their championship win. Efes will now refocus their attention on the Turkish league playoffs after finishing the season in first place. They will take on Banvit in their best of three-game series.
Jock Landale enjoyed a standout first year of professional basketball after starring for Saint Mary’s across four years in the NCAA. Playing for Serbian side Partizan Belgrade, he averaged 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in the EuroCup and 12 points and 3.2 rebounds in the ABA Liga. Attracting plenty of interest from larger budget teams and NBA front officies, he has been snapped up by Motum’s former EuroLeague Lithuanian outfit Žalgiris Kaunas on a “1+1” deal with NBA out-clauses.
In the Italian Serie A quarter-finals, Vanoli Cremona opened their campaign with an 82-75 win against ALMA Trieste to take a 1-0 series lead. Former Charlotte Hornets big man Mangok Mathiang starred, delivering a big 11 point and 18 rebound double-double with 1 steal and 1 blocked shot in 32 minutes. Vanoli had to come from behind to steal the win, with the Australian big man pulling down a critical 9 offensive boards to give his team the edge.
Vanoli would back up to also take game 2, prevailing 89-81. They used a 23-16 third term to provide some separation, and would also win the final term to hold off Trieste. Mathiang would go close to another double-double, this time adding 8 points and 14 rebounds, restricted to playing 22 minutes due to foul trouble. Vanoli is now in the box seat to advance to the semi-finals.
Mirko Djeric started for Dynamic VP in the Serbian Super League and helped them to a thrilling 82-81 victory. Djeric added 4 points with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes, with Dynamic withstanding a 26-19 final term by Sloboda Uzice to hang on for the 1 point win. Following their third straight win, Dynamic are now tied with Mega Bemax in second place in Group B with a 4-3 record, however they next take on unbeaten Partizan in a must-win next game.
In the Israeli second division, Hapoel Galilee levelled the grand final series against Maccabi Haifa at 1-1 after registering a 73-61 win in game 2. It was a dominant defensive performance that drove the win, with 7-foot centre Jo Lual-Acuil Jr going close to a rare triple double. The former Baylor star accumulated 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and an incredible 7 blocked shots in a commanding performance, helping secure the important win.
Game 3 saw the tables turn on Hapoel Galilee, with Maccabi Haifa forcing their opponents into 20 turnovers, 18 of which were steals, as they stole a road win 72-74. Lual Acuil Jr remains a potent rim protector, swatting away another 5 shots while also collecting 15 points (9-11 FG) and 9 rebounds. Yet the visitors came up with the big plays down the stretch to secure victory as the series head back to Maccabi Haifa for a pivotal game 4.
In the last round of the French LNB, Strasbourg secured sixth place after taking care of Gravelines 78-87 on the road. Nathan Sobey relished the opportunity to play extended minutes, coming off the bench to add 4 points, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 21 minutes. Like Sobey, David Andersen came off the bench to play 13 minutes in which he filled the box score with 4 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Strasbourg will open their playoff campaign against third placed Dijon this weekend.
Unlike Strasbourg, Levallois’ season ended with a season ending loss at the hands of playoff-bound Limoges 106-78. Little-used veteran big man Nathan Jawai went scoreless in 9 minutes, with Levallois finishing in twelfth position.