EuroView: Jock Landale's heroics not enough in the EuroCup
Jock Landale's consistent debut professional season continued unabated as he almost played the hero yet again for Partizan in the EuroCup, while Duop Reath dropped a season high in Serbia and Ben Madgen proved his veteran's worth in Germany.
In what proved to be one of the games of the round, Partizan Belgrade hosted Lietuvos Rytas in their EuroCup Top 16 clash. It was the Lithuanian visitors who controlled the game for most of the contest, but that would not stop the hosts making a furious run in the final 4 minutes with their parochial home crowd cheering them on.
Trailing by eight with 6 minutes to play, Jock Landale lifted down the stretch, with the 6'11 center making big plays. None was bigger than when he denied a potential sealer for Lietuvos Rytas with 16 seconds left, before then making the lay-up that put his side up by one with just 10 seconds remaining to send the crowd into raptures.
However the celebrations were short-lived, as Landale's late game heroics would not result in victory this time, with Lietuvos Rytas' star Atisiom Parakhouski coming up with the big jump shot over Landale to steal back the lead with less than 1 second remaining on the clock. A desperation Partizan three went from three-quarter court almost went in, yet Lietuvos Rytas headed home with a must-win 78-77 victory to stave off elimination. Results will now have to go Partizan's way if they are to advance to the next stage, as long as they win next week.
Earlier in the week, Jock Landale put the icing on the cake for Partizan as they accounted for Mega Bemax 98-86 in the Adriatic League. Partizan gained control early, and while their rivals would manage to work their way back into the game in the second and third quarters, Landale's team were never seriously challenged. The former Saint Mary's star was at his consistent best yet again, adding 15 points (7-10 FG) with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocked shots as he led from the front, helping his team consolidate fourth place in the standings.
Also delivering a big game in the ABA Liga was another first year big man in Duop Reath. The former LSU standout piled on an equal career-high 16 points on 7-11 shooting which included a perfect 2-2 from beyond the arc. He would also add 3 rebounds and 3 blocks in a dominant performance to lead FMP Belgrade to a 87-78 victory against Igokea. FMP finished with a 26-11 final term to run over the top of Igokea, ensuring they improved to a 7-10 record, and tied for sixth place.
After a tight first half when nothing separated either side, Anadolu Efes Istanbul was outscored 42-50 in the second period to go down to second placed Real Madrid 84-92 in the EuroLeague. Brock Motum piled on 7 points in the second quarter to keep his team in touch, yet he was primarily used as pinch-hitting scorer off the bench as he played less than 13 minutes for the game. Despite the limited opportunities, Motum delivered a perfect shooting performance, finishing with 13 points on 5-5 shooting (1-1 3PT) and 2-2 from the free throw line. While Efes lost the game, they managed to cling onto fourth place in the standings ahead of round 21.
Mangok Mathiang was once again in dominant form as he helped Vanoli Cremona to a 70-62 win against Avellino in the Italian Serie A. The 6'10 centre was 1 rebound shy of yet another double-double, compiling 10 points (5-11 FG), 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Mathiang intimidated his opponents and proved to be an effective rim-protector, helping restrict Avellino to just 41% shooting, helping overcome Cremona's woeful 34% shooting night, largely thanks to their interior dominance. It was an important victory, as Cremona usurped Avellino for third place in the standings, with both clubs now locked together with an 11-6 record.
As the FIBA Europe Cup resumed, s.Oliver Würzburg continued on their winning ways by dispatching Turkish side Pinar Karsiyaka 104-91. In the high-scoring encounter, Würzburg pulled away in the second half to cruise to their 13 point win and a spread of contributors. Xavier Cooks was one of eight players on his team to score 7 points or more, adding 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 minutes. Würzburg remained undefeated with a 5-0 record in Group I, guaranteeing their qualification for the next round.
Returning to the German Bundesliga, Cooks played a pivotal role in helping his side to a third straight win in the competition which came at the expense of the higher-ranked Ludwigsburg. However from the opening term it looked like victory would be beyond them, trailing 13-30 at quarter time. Yet it was Cooks who lifted his side in the second, taking over the game ensure Würzburg clawed the margin back to just 8 points at the main break. Würzburg managed to ride that momentum the remainder of the contest, winning the remaining two quarters to prevail 82-79. Cooks finished with 13 points (6-13 FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots, and was the player to step up to get his team back in the game. Despite the win, his team remains 4 games behind eighth position, and with plenty of work to do to work their way into finals calculations.
Crailsheim's giant-killing ways came to an end at the hands of Löwen Braunschweig. With the Merlins falling behind early, they were unable to make up the lost ground before going down 84-98. Veteran Ben Madgen was brilliant yet again for the Merlins in defeat, gathering an equal team-high 17 points alongside 2 rebounds in 27 minutes. While they are still sitting at the bottom of the standings, they are locked in a four-way battle to avoid relegation, with four teams boasting 6 wins.
Keanu Pinder's emergence continued in Poland, with the 6'9 forward adding 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 15 minutes in Legia Warszawa's heavy 62-84 defeat to Stal Ostrów Wielkopolski. While Warszawa gained the early advantage and a 1 point lead at quarter time, they were then crushed 51-24 across the middle two periods, unable to recover despite a strong 18-14 finish to close out the game against their fifth ranked opponent. Warszawa is locked in equal seventh place with a 9-8 record.
Zlatorog Laško were outgunned 79-68 by Krka in Slovenia, with their opponents taking control across the second and third terms to set up the win. Matur Maker was limited to just 15 minutes as a starter, adding 6 points with 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in his limited time on court. It was the first time he had been unable to make a big impact on his new team since joining them at the start of the New Year, with both he and his team looking to rebound in their next game against Petrol Olimpija.
In the French Pro B, despite 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks from Chima Moneke, Denain fell to ninth placed Lille 74-81. It was a different case for Paris and Daniel Dillon however with the veteran Aussie helping lead his side to a 90-82 win against lowly Chartres. Dillon added 6 points, 2 rebounds and 5 assists as his team continued its late-season rise up the ladder.