In another action-packed week in Eurocup and Euroleague, Australia's men have continued to play a key role in their team's aspirations in the second stages of their respective competitions. In particular, Ryan Broekhoff, Chris Goulding and Brad Newley all shined this week in Eurocup.
Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul travelled to France to take on Paris Levallois, looking to secure their first win of the Final 32 in Eurocup. After a tight start, it was the hosts who managed to gain the ascendancy as they opened up a 10 point lead at the end of the first period. While Besiktas managed to keep within touch, they were never able to recover the margin as they ended up on the wrong end of an 83-93 result. Australian Boomer Ryan Broekhoff did his best to help mount a second half comeback, finishing with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals in almost 38 minutes of action.
The loss came about despite a brilliant performance by team-mate Engin Atsur who poured in a game-high 29 points including 5/7 from downtown and dishing out 9 assists along the way. Besiktas' Eurocup scoring leader Chris Lofton was restricted to just 10 points on a paltry 3/14 shooting and his scoring punch was badly missed. They will be looking to regroup and notch their first Final 32 victory against Neptunas Klaipeda in Lithuania which will be a tough ask. A road run is almost necessary if Besiktas hopes to progress further.
"We played lots of games in a row over a few days and were not in the best shape to play this one. It was hard, and we are now in a bad position for the qualification to the next round. We have to win at least one game away." - Besiktas Head Coach, Ahmet Kandemir
As a consolation, Broekhoff was voted into the Turkish Basketball League All Star game to be held on Monday Australian time.
Looking to secure its first win of the Final 32, CAI Zaragoza hosted Virtus Rome (1-0) in a crucial encounter. In what proved to be a low-scoring game that was dictated by defense, it Zaragoza who was able to make the big plays and big shots to eventually pull away for a 67-53 win. The win largely came about behind the sharpshooting of Zaragoza's Marcus Landry who connected on 6 three-pointers to lead all scorers with 20 points.
Australian marksman Chris Goulding was one of three Zaragoza players who scored in double figures, playing an instrumental role for the Spaniards in their win. He delivered 10 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in 30 minutes and it was the timing of his plays that made all the difference. When Goulding nailed his second triple late in the second half he had extended Zaragoza's lead to 14 and from there they were never seriously threatened.
Zaragoza improved to a 1-1 record in Group I and will need to maintain their winning form as they next travel to Russia to take on Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd who have struggled in their two losses in the Final 32 to remain without a win.
The hottest team in Eurocup remains Herbalife Gran Canaria who managed to remain unbeaten after they dismantled Buducnost VOLI Podgorica at home 92-69. Gran Ganaria are yet to drop a game in the 2014/15 Eurocup season, once again demonstrating why with a commanding performance in Group H.
With the home crowd providing great support, Gran Canaria quickly opened to a 11-5 lead to take the ascendancy. As expected Buducnost would rally, and just as the momentum appeared to be swinging against the home side, one of Kyle Kuric, Ian O'Leary, Levon Kendall or Brad Newley would answer to stem the tide, ensuring Gran Canaria was able to cruise to victory.
Brad Newley was once again able to maintain his outstanding form, this time providing 14 points (4/8 FG) with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and in just under 23 minutes on court. Her was one of four players who scored 14 points or more as the hosts shot a very good 54% from the field compared to Buducnost's 41%. Gran Canaria Head Coach Aito Garcia Reneses enjoyed the luxury of resting his star players down the stretch thanks to their big lead and a chance to best prepare his team for their upcoming Lega Endesa clash against Movistar Estudiantes. While their focus may move back across to the Spanish ACB for now, Gran Canaria travels to Banvit Biandirma (1-1) next week in Eurocup for a chance to put some distance between them and the rest of Group H.
You can watch Eurocup action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week's games being broadcast are as follows (all times AEDST):
Wednesday, 21st January
6:30am LIVE: Union Olimpija (SVN) vs Bayern Munich (DEU)
Thursday, 22nd January
4:15am LIVE: Unics Kazan (RUS) vs Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
Playing in front of a vocal full house in Serbia, Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul faced a stiff challenge against the winless Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade as they looked to build upon their 1-1 record in Group E.
In an entertaining game, it was the visitors who managed to edge ahead early as Galatasaray won the first quarter 21-19. the hosts however bounced back strongly in the second period behind some good defense and the interior scoring from star center Boban Marjanovic (18 points and 7 rebounds) to regain the lead 35-33.
Australian Aleks Maric was providing excellent support for Galatasaray off the bench and was combining well with Carlos Arroyo in the pick and roll. Defensively, Maric was able to help slow down Marjanovic and disrupt Crvena Zvezda's offense. The Turkish side outscored the hosts 41-30 in the second half to earn a most deserved 74-65 win, with Maric finishing with 4 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist in 13 minutes.
Now with a 2-1 record and tied with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, Panathinaikos Athens in Group E's standing, Galatasaray looks ahead to their next contest as they return home to host German side Alba Berlin (1-2) and a chance to solidify their place in the top 4 teams.
You can watch Euroleague action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week's games being broadcast are as follows:
Friday, 23rd January
6:45am LIVE: Emporio Armani Milan (ITA) vs Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (TUR)
Saturday, 24th January
4:45am LIVE: Zalgiris Kaunas (LTU) vs Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv (ISR)
6:45am LIVE: FC Barcelona (ESP) vs Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (SRB)