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Fotu leads Zaragoza to win in Eurocup, Motum solid in tough loss
Another week has passed in Eurocup and Euroleague competition, with the Aussies and a Kiwi doing their best to lift their respective sides to important wins.
Lokomotiv Kuban played FC Barcelona in an important contest; both teams were neck and neck in the Group C standings with Lokomotiv coming into the game with a 4-0 record, standing atop of the Group C with Barcelona sitting in second place with a 3-1 record. Barcelona took the lead to start the game and held onto it throughout the first half, outscoring Lokomotiv 37-31 through two quarters.
In the third quarter Lokomotiv came out strong, outscoring FC Barcelona 18-11. Taking their first lead in the game with two minutes left in the third quarter, making the score 47-46. The game would stay close the rest of the fourth quarter, but with Barcelona leading 70-67 Malcolm Delaney created contact from three, getting a chance to tie the game with three free throws. But he missed two of them making the final score 70-68.
Ryan Broekhoff had a quiet game for Lokomotiv, only playing 15 minutes and scoring one point. He also had three rebounds and two assists. And although he didn’t play much, he did make a couple of great plays for his teammates, finding them for an easy buckets.
This was an important game between two teams fighting for the final two spots in Group C. Panathinaikos started the game on a 10-3 run and didn’t look back the rest of the game. They played suffocating defense, getting out in transition et every opportunity to score easy points. Zalgiris Kaunas were restricted to just 35% shooting for the game; they couldn’t find a way to score.
Brock Motum tried his best to help Zalgiris get back into the game, scoring 10 points (4-11FG), including making a three-pointer and a nice fast break dunk, also grabbing 4 rebounds in 21 minutes of playing time. Yet the team as a whole didn’t play well, committing 21 turnovers in the game compared to registering just 9 assists. They allowed Panathinaikos to score in the paint at will, who went their way to scoring 91 points in total, ending with a final score of 91-56.
New Zealand’s Isaac Fotu played a key part in CAI Zaragoza’s win over Umana Reyer Venice, helping lead the team to a 79-77 victory in what proved to be a close game. From the tip-off, Zaragoza took the lead starting the game on an 8-2 run and didn’t look back the rest of the first half. Umana Reyer Venice had a couple of runs, but couldn’t get enough stops to come back in the game.
When the second half started, Umana Reyer looked like a different team. The ball was moving more, and they also started to put together defensive stops. They outscored Zaragoza in the second half of the game 45 points to Zaragoza’s 40. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Umana Reyer came back to lead by a point. At that stage, Zaragoza head coach Joaquin Lorente took Isaac Fotu and without him, his side couldn’t get their offense going and allowed Umana Reyer take a three-point lead with two minutes remaining.
Fotu's insertion immediately resulted in two crucial buckets for Zaragoza, helping them take back the lead 79-77. With 1.60 seconds left in the game Umana Reyer had a chance to tie the game, but instead missed both free throws, losing the game 79-77.
Isaac Fotu was one of the best players for Zaragoza, ending the game with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists. He contributed on key possessions throughout the game, whether the team needed a key bucket, or grabbing rebounds. And although his stats don’t jump out to you; he had the second highest plus/minus on the team (+6) and also played good defense, finding teammates for the open jumper, setting good screens; just playing winning basketball.
Also enjoying success was Brad Newley and Herbalife Gran Canaria who earned a 76-67 win over Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia to maintain their status as the leaders in Group B.
Trailing by 8 with less than 5 minutes to go in the game, Kevin Pangos helped Gran Canaria reel off a 14-0 run to overrun Emilia and run out 9 point victors. Newley was at his workmanlike best, adding 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in his starting role. He continues to be the glue that will ensure his side will progress to the next round of Eurocup.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica are now in a dire position in Group D after falling short to Steaua CSM EximBank Bucharest 75-81 on the road and boast just 1 win now from 5 games.
The home side managed to gain the early ascendancy, opening up a 14 point half time lead. Buducnost however rallied in the third period, outscoring the Romanians 25-15 to work their way back into the contest. With the home crowd behind them, Steaua steadied and held on to earn a 6 point victory.
Aleks Maric was again solid with 9 points and 8 rebounds, but it could have been much more as he only connected on 2/6 from the field and 5/9 from the charity stripe.