A host of Aussies are now either finishing off their European campaigns or engrossed in playoff action. Xavier Cooks and his German club s.Oliver Würzburg went close to lifting the FIBA Europe Cup last week, while Brock Motum's Anadolu Efes Istanbul advanced to the EuroLeague Final Four as we wrap up another week if Aussie men in Europe.
After dropping the opening game of the home-and-away finals contest against Italian side Dinamo Sassari 84-89 in the road, Würzburg were then pipped at home 79-81 in a thriller that resulted in the championship heading to Italy courtesy of a 170-163 aggregate victory.
In the opening road game loss, Cooks was brilliant, pouring in 19 points with 5 rebounds as his side went down in a close one. However in the return home leg, the first year professional was restricted to just 5 points and 3 rebounds in the heartbreaking 2 point loss that handed Sassari the title.
The versatile forward did it all for Würzburg in the FIBA Europe Cup, averaging 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 52.9% from the field. The former Winthrop star narrowly missed being named the best forward in the FIBA Europe Cup Fan Awards, finishing second behind Mikael Hopkins of Balkan BC who won with 24 percent of the votes compared to Cooks' 18.9 percent.
Würzburg returned back to the German Bundesliga for two games with mixed results. Against third placed ALBA Berlin, Cooks added 9 points and 7 rebounds but Würzburg went down 69-108. They bounced back to register a 99-84 win against medi bayreuth, with Cooks 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The victory saw them cling to eighth place in the standings ahead of their clash with seventh placed Bonn this week.
While Cook's side is battling for a place in the playoffs, Ben Madgen's Crailsheim Merlins sit precariously in the relegation zone following a 63-88 loss to BG Göttingen. Bound for South East Melbourne Phoenix after the end of the season, Madgen compiled 8 points on 3-9 shooting in the loss. Their game against last-placed Jena this week is crucial in their quest to remain in the German Bundesliga next season.
Brock Motum's Anadolu Efes Istanbul has advanced to the EuroLeague Final Four for the first time in 18 years after securing a 3-2 series win over Spanish foes Barcelona. Efes will now face Turkish crosstown rivals Fenerbahce in the semifinals in Vitoria-Gasteiz on May 17.
2016 Rio Olympian Brock Motum was forced to watch the best-of-five game series on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. However The Pick and Roll has learned that the 6'10 stretch forward is returning to training this week and is on track to suit up in the Turkish Basketball League on the weekend ahead of the Final Four.
Mangok Mathiang's Vanoli Cremona took outright second place in the Italian Serie A via an impressive 80-65 win against third ranked Venezia. A final quarter 20-7 outburst saw Cremona pull away, led by another impressive performance by their Australian centre. Mathiang amassed a game-high 21 points on 6-10 shooting and 9-12 from the free throw line with 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots to continue his outstanding season as they look ahead to the playoffs.
Strasbourg's hold onto eighth place in the French LNB is looking shaky following their 71-101 capitulation to third ranked Monaco. David Andersena and Nathan Sobey both came off the bench to provide a combined 8 points and 2 rebounds in limited time on court. Nathan Jawai also played just 17 minutes for 6 points and 5 rebounds off the bench in Levallois' 85-97 loss to Gravelines-Dunkerque. With a losing win-loss record, his side appears destined to miss the playoffs.
In the French Pro B, newly signed Adelaide 36ers' wing Dan Dillon scored a team-high 14 points and 8 assists in Paris' 78-92 loss to Chartres. South East Melbourne Phoenix recruit Chima Moneke enjoyed a better outcome as Denain shot down Caen 83-69. Moneke exploded for an equal team-high 22 points with 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the forward demonstrated his all-round capability. The win by Denain keeps them away from the relegation zone in fifteenth position, while Paris is now in twelfth spot in the standings.
In the British Basketball League, the Plymouth Raiders snuck into the playoffs in eighth place, they advanced past London in the opening round following a an 86-72 victory. Josh Wilcher played the full 40 minutes as he gathered 11 pointsa, 4 rebounds and 7 assists, leading the Raiders to a memorable upset series victory over the minor premiers. They next take on Leicester in the semifinals commencing this week.
Legia Warszawa came away with a 97-91 win against Arka Gdynia in the Polish national league to claw a game back in their quarterfinal series, still trailing in the best-of-five game series 1-2. Keanu Pinder came off the bench to add 7 points and 4 rebounds, and will need to keep up his efforts if they are to level the series and force a deciding game 5.
Deng Deng had a major impact in Stelmet Zielona Gora levelling their quarterfinal series against Dabrowa Gornicza 1-1 also in Poland. Deng went 9-20 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line on his way to a team-best 25 points, going on to clock up a double-double with 11 rebounds and 3 assists. He will be an important player whether Stelmet is able to advance to the semifinals.
Former Baylor standout Jo Lual Acuil Jr helped guide Hapoel Galilee to a 3-1 semifinal series win against Kiryat Motzkin following a 71-60 win in game 4. The athletic 7-footer contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds with 2 assists and 1 block in a dominant performance. His side will face Maccabi Haifa in the grand final series commencing this week.
In the Serbian KLS, Mirko Djeric started and added 5 points in 28 minutes as Dynamic lost to a Jock Landale-less Partizan 58-96. Partizan have a 3-0 record in Pool B to remain undefeated.
In the final round of the Spanish second division, Obi Kyei added 14 points and 4 rebounds but Forca Lleida went down to Energia 84-86 in a nail-biter. South East Melbourne Phoenix signee Dan Trist's season with Caceres on the other hand finished on a positive note, recording a 73-57 win over Real Canoe. Trist enjoyed a big game, compiling 16 points and 4 rebounds as his side avoided relegation, and he now heads back to Australia to suit up for Frankston in NBL1.