The opening round of the EuroLeague and Eurocup season did not go according to plan for all three teams featuring Australians, yet Lock Landale and Brock Motum delivered strong individual performances.
Landale made his EurLeague debut for Žalgiris Kaunas in front of more than 15,000 home fans against Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. There was nothing separating either side in the opening term, but the visitors managed to pull away by 7 points at the main break. Landale tried to fire up the home team to keep his side within reach throughout the third term. He would continue to rally Žalgiris in the fourth quarter, with his first triple of the game closing the margin to just 4 points. However Baskonia would not be denied, earning an impressive 58-70 win.
Shooting 3 of 4 from inside the arc, Landale would compile 9 points with 4 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 20 minutes off the bench. However he managed just 1 of 6 from three-point territory, and with his side shooting a lowly 36% overall from the field and a terrible 53.3% from the free throw line, it was never going to be enough to register a win.
Against Russian superpower and reigning EuroLeague champions CSKA Moscow, Valencia were beaten across all four quarters to go down 71-96 in their opener.
CSKA were in control right from the outset, opening up a 7 point lead by the first break. Valencia would close to within 3 points on the back of a Brock Motum triple early in the second period, but that would be as close as they would get as CSKA motored along to their 25 point win.
Motum was just one of two players with Valencia to score in double figures, compiling 12 points (4-8 FG) with 4 rebounds in 19 minutes as a starter. At times, Motum was the go-to player for Valencia in the second half, but with CSKA shooting a red-hot 17 of 31 three-pointers and almost 55% from the field overall, they were always being placed under pressure.
Cameron Bairstow and Rytas Vilnius were also in action in the opening round of the EuroCup with his side hosting Russian outfit Lokomotiv Kuban. In a thrilling game, the hosts found themselves trailing by 7 heading into the second period. However that margin was quickly evaporated as the home side caught fire. Rytas scorched the bottom of the net to amass a club record 40 points for the term to take control of the contest and earn a 12 point lead at half time. Lokomotiv would throw everything at their Lithuanian foes in the second half, but the home side manged to hold on for a 92-86 win.
Former Brisbane Bullets star Bairstow came off the bench to register just 7 minutes on court for 1 point, 1 rebound and 1 blocked shot. He will be hoping for more opportunities to display his value over coming weeks.