Australia's big men in Europe have entered the New Year in outstanding fashion, with dominant performances delivered by 2019 FIBA World Cup Australian national team hopefuls Brock Motum, Jock Landale, Mangok Mathiang and Duop Reath.
After two dominant performances in the EuroLeague, Brock Motum continued his outstanding form by unleashing another offensive masterclass in the Turkish Super League. The 2016 Rio Olympian poured in a game-high 25 points on a red-hot 11-14 shooting that included 2-3 from downtown with 8 rebounds in just 23 minutes. His outburst in coming off the bench ensured a 33-8 opening term would not go to waste as Anadolu Efes Istanbul destroyed Pinar Karsiyaka 104-76. Pinar Karsiyaka had no answer for the size and depth of Efes, with the EuroLeague contenders dominating all aspects fo the game, with their Australian forward in devastating form.
Partizan secured a narrow 72-66 win against Olimpija Ljubljana in the Adriatic League to place them on the cusp of sneaking their way into the top four. Jock Landale starred in crunch time, pulling down 5 of his 9 rebounds -- two of them offensive -- while also scoring 7 of his 13 points to deliver a big final term to ensure Partizan held on to win in what proved to be a tight contest from the outset. The 6'11 centre has been a dominant presence in the post for Partizan, also showing his versatility in dishing out 3 assists.
Landale was again dominant in Partizan's Eurocup Top 16 opener against Lietuvos Rytas, however his impact was limited by foul trouble. The game would go right down to the wire, with Landale almost single-handedly pulling Partizan to within 2 points on a dunk with a little over a minute to play. However that would be Partizan's final score, with Rytas holding on to win 80-74 in a gruelling encounter. Landale would almost deliver another double-double, compiling 15 points on 7-10 shooting with 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in just 23 minutes. Partizan will now seek to regroup in their next fixture when they return home to host ALBA Berlin.
With Landale stealing most of the limelight in Servia, it would be easy to overlook fellow first year professional Duop Reath who produced one of his best performances of the season in FMP Belgrade's big 106-89 win against Mega Bemax. The 6'10 forward was outstanding, shooting a sizzling 7-9 from the field including 2-3 from long distance to finish with a new career-high 16 points with 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots. Reath made an impact throughout his 26 minutes on court, helping his side to an important win that closed the gap to just 2 wins behind the fourth placed Mega Bemax in the Adriatic League standings.
In the Italian Serie A, Mangok Mathiang and Vanoli Cremona closed out 2018 with a convincing 100-87 win against Torino. The victory was set up by a 23-16 opening term, with Mathiang one of six Cremona players to register double figures. The 6'10 centre registered his fourth double-double of the season and third in as many games in compiling 15 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in 25 minutes. The victory ensured they remained in a four-way tie for second place in the standings, boasting a 9-4 record.
s.Oliver Würzburg will rue a missed opportunity when they fell to EWE Baskets Oldenburg 78-88 in the German Bundesliga. With nothing separating either side, it was a 33-20 final quarter surge by Oldenburg that saw them outlast Würzburg down the stretch. Xavier Cooks was yet again the shining light for Würzburg, with the 6'8 rookie delivering a team-best 13 points that included 3-4 triples with 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 4 blocked shots in 31 minutes. It was his fourth straight game where he has registered double figures in scoring, and the sixth time in his past seven outings.
Also in Germany, despite a 15 point, 5 rebound and 4 assist performance by Ben Madgen, lowly Crailsheim were handed an 85-102 loss by Bayreuth. Even though the Merlins connected on a more than respectable 54.4% from the field, they allowed their opponents to shoot an even better 60% while coughing up 18 turnovers and in being out-rebounded 34-26. Madgen however took good care of the ball, with only 1 turnover against his name in 31 minutes as a starter. The loss entrenched Crailsheim on the bottom of the table in the relegation zone with just two wins this season.