Jock Landale and Duop Reath delivered big performances in the ABA Liga this week, while fellow big men Xavier Cooks, Matur Maker and Mangok Mathiang were also in excellent form across Europe.
Having already had their chances of advancing past the EuroCup Top 16 extinguished, Partizan Belgrade was sent packing by Group E's top side ALBA Berlin courtesy of a 74-97 road loss to close out their campaign. Despite knowing their fate, it was the visitors who opened strongly, opening up a 5 point lead at the end of the first, with Jock Landale scoring the last four points straight. He opened the second period with a triple extended their lead, but from there the home side unleashed three-point shooting outburst to take the lead and never again trail as they pulled away for the 23-point win. Landale ended his debut EuroCup competition with 11 points on an efficient 5-8 shooting with 6 rebounds in a little under 23 minutes.
Partizan bounced back in convincing fashion, with Landale leading from the front. The 6'11 centre piled on a game-high 23 points on 8-13 shooting which included 2-4 from deep and 5-7 from the line to power his club to a big 76-67 win over Buducnost in the ABA Liga. Partizan led for all but the first minute, ensuring they pulled level with Buducnost in third place in the standings.
Also enjoying a big night out in the Adriatic League was another first year professional in Duop Reath. The former LSU star poured in a season-high 19 points (6-15 FG) with 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in an impressive display against second ranked Cedevita. FMP gained the upper hand early, building a 7 point lead at the end of the first period. They would still hold a 6-point advantage at half time, however that is when the tide turned. Despite Reath's great play, Cedevita's class started to shine through, stealing the lead late. A last-chance triple at the buzzer was off target, consigning FMP to a heart-breaking 85-87 loss.
Xavier Cooks played an unusually low-profile role in s.Oliver Würzburg's FIBA Europe Cup Round 2 victory over Hungarian outfit Szolnoki Olaj. Cooks was solid, compiling 9 points (4-7 FG), 1 assist and 1 block in just 13 minutes, but match-up's did not go his way. Würzburg however pulled away from their opponents just before half-time, pulling away further in the second half to cruise to a 92-83 win to maintain their unbeaten run in the competition.
Against Ben Madgen's Crailsheim Merlins back home in the German Bundesliga, Cooks was back to his dominant best. The 6'8 versatile forward was almost unstoppable, going 9-14 from the field for an equal game-high 20 points with 9 rebounds. In his return from an ankle injury, Madgen was more than serviceable, adding 11 points and 3 assists. While the contest was close through, it was Würzburg who would break the shackles in the final term, opening up a final 87-75 margin.
Würzburg backed up with yet another victory, this time an 88-71 result against BG Göttingen. They took control of the contest mid-way through the opening term and never then relinquished their lead. This time Cooks played 28 minutes for 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Würzburg is now in the midst of a brilliant 6-game winning streak and on the verge of breaking into the top eight in the standings.
Over in Slovenia, Makur Maker was making a difference for Zlatorog Laško, helping them to two straight wins across the past week. Up against sixth placed Helios, Maker delivered a 14-point and 10-rebound double-double to help his side triumph 91-86 in an important win against a higher ranked team. The 6'10 big man was dominant in the paint, drawing 7 fouls file also dishing out 2 assists with 2 steals.
Zlatorog was able to consolidate their earlier victory with a terrific 92-73 win against Ilirija, and it was Maker doing most of the damage. Maker piled on a season-best 20 points which included 10-12 from the free throw line. He also amassed a staggering haul of 17 rebounds, and when placed alongside his 3 assists, it was certainly his most impressive performance to date. It was his fifth double-double of the year since joining Zlatorog, and his third straight as his side is now tied for sixth with Helios.
Another who continues to rack up double-doubles is 6'10 big man Mangok Mathiang in the Italian Serie A with Vanoli Cremona. In their last start 87-70 win against Virtus Bologna, Mathiang gathered 14 points (7-9 FG) and 10 rebounds with 2 assists and 3 blocks in 30 minutes [Highlights]. While Cremona were in control for most of the contest, they finished with a blistering 26-13 final term to put away Bologna for good. It was Mathiang's eighth double-double of the season, and he now averages an impressive 10.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game with his side currently sitting in third position.
Having signed with Hapoel Galilee in the Israeli National League (second division), former Baylor standout Jo Lual-Acuil Jr came off the bench to make a valuable contribution in their 72-67 win against Netanya. He quickly made an impact in adding 14 points with 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in just 17 minutes. His new team is sitting in fourth place, and with Lual-Acuil Jr still finding his feet, he could well set them on a path to playoff success.
After being relieved of active duties with Melbourne United in the NBL, Dan Trist has signed with Spanish side Cáceres Basket in the LEB Oro (second division). He will play out the 2018/19 season with his new team before returning to play in the Basketball Victoria managed Elite League with the Frankston Blues.