EuroView: Andersen finals bound, Brandt and Motum locked in battle

Four Aussies remain in European playoff contention, with three having progressed all the way to the finals. So far Angus Brandt has been flying the flag over in Lithuania, while Motum has been well-held in the first two championship games in Lithuania.

In game one of the LKL playoffs, Angus Brandt scored 16 points as BC Neptunas Klaipeda fell 83-72 to Brock Motum’s BC Zalgiris Kaunas. Brandt played 27 minutes and was highly effective, converting 7/12 from the field alongside 4 rebounds and landing 2 three-pointers. Motum came off the bench for 8 points (4/8 FG) and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes.

Neptunas were content to stay outside the paint and try their hand from three-point range (9/26 3PT), while Zalgiris tried to get to the basket and benefited at the free-throw line where they would connect on 16/17. Zalgiris played strongly as was expected at home, however game two was a different story.

Neptunas were dominant from tip-off, powering their way to a commanding 48-25 half time lead. Zalgiris found it difficult to respond, with Neptunas going on to record an easy 76-54 win, though Brandt and Motum were both quiet for their respective sides. Brandt added just 3 points (0/3 FG) and 5 rebounds in 15 minutes, while Motum was only able to contribute 2 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes.

Zalgiris lost the game early, recording 16 turnovers and finishing 2/16 from behind the arc. It was an uncharacteristic loss from Zalgiris, recording just 6 assists as they were thoroughly outplayed. It is interesting to note that Brandt is playing a far bigger role in the series, despite Motum being the highest-paid foreigner in the LKL. Not many would have predicted Brandt outshining Motum, let alone a Neptunas victory at the start of the playoffs. Although Motum's quiet performances are more so a testament to the depth of Zalgiris than a blight.

David Andersen’s ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne have progressed to the French Pro A League finals with a 3-1 series win over number one seed Monaco. ASVEL closed out the series 80-59, with Andersen contributing 4 points and 4 rebounds. It was a quiet series for Andersen, averaging just 6.5 points and 4 rebounds in the four-game series.

ASVEL showed off their versatility in the series and boast many weapons to throw at Strasbourg in the finals. It would not be surprising for Andersen to come up big in a couple of games, as the veteran looks to leave a mark on the series. ASVEL split their regular season series 1-1 with Strasbourg, taking the win in the opening game of the season, but beaten by 21 points in round 18. It is hard to take too much out of the regular season encounters, but ASVEL is sure to be full of confidence after their win over Monaco.

The playoffs have now commenced in the Spanish ACB, with Boomer Brad Newley in the mix with his side Herbalife Gran Canaria tied at 1-1 with Euroleague side Laboral Kutxa. Newley scored 5 points and dished out 4 assists in game one as Gran Canaria fell 81-76. That first encounter proved to be a fierce contest from the start, but was broken open by a dominant 27-16 quarter from the hosts. Both teams failed to make the most of their opportunities from long-range; it was the rebounding that gave Laboral Kutxa the edge. They out-rebounded Gran Canaria 42-31 and made the most of the extra possessions.

In game two it was Gran Canaria’s chance to seize victory with a dominant quarter, blowing the game open with a 26-17 run in the second period. Gran Canaria went on to take the win 93-87, holding off the visitors' strong efforts in a tight second half. Brad Newley hit two important three-pointers on his way to 8 points (3/4 FG) in 20 minutes. In a turnaround from game one, both teams shot the ball exceptionally well from long-range and provided a high-scoring and entertaining playoff game. The season is on the line for Gran Canaria as they must now win game three on the road to advance.