With the completion of most national cup competitions and the recent FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, the European leagues recommenced across the past week. With the injection of some additional Aussie talent following the conclusion of the NBL regular season, there were some new faces to follow this week while Xavier Cooks continued to deliver in Germany.
Nathan Sobey and David Andersen suited up for Strasbourg for the first time this season in a narrow 77-75 win against Le Mans in the French LNB. Sobey added 9 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists, while Andersen chimed in with 6 points and 6 rebounds, as Strasbourg came up with the big plays down the stretch to earn the win.
Also suiting up for his first game was Nathan Jawai, playing for Levallois in their LNB clash against Châlons-Reims. The big man came off the bench to play 13 minutes, contributing 3 points and 1 block in his cameo appearance which resulted in an 83-78 win.
While Strasbourg sits in sixth position and looking to utilise Sobey and Andersen to help them make a deep playoff run, Jawai's Levallois is hoping the former Boomers big man can lead them into the playoff equation.
In the French second division, Chima Moneke broke out for a 22 point and 5 rebounds performance for Denain against Poitiers. Unfortunatley for the newly signed South East Melbourne Phoenix forward, his side could not stave off their opponents late in the game despite his flawless 10-10 shooting performance from the field.
Paris may have only received 2 points from Daniel Dillon, but he added 3 rebounds and 8 assists as they registered a tough 84-82 win against Blois also in the French Pro B. Denain and Paris both have losing records up until this point in the season, with the latter still within reach of a playoff berth.
In the Adriatic League, both Jock Landale and Duop Reath found themselves in extremely tight games but ultimately experiencing contrasting results.
What proved to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the season, Partizan Belgrade took on Crvena Zvezda. Little separated either team throughout the contest, with the Partizan holding a 2 point lead at half time. Crvena won the third term by 6 to take a slender lead into the final quarter, and it all came down to which team could execute down the stretch. Joe Ragland came up with two big free throws with 11 seconds to play, ensuring Crvena would come away with a thriling 2 point win.
For Partizan, Jock Landale was a model of consistency, adding 13 points on 5-8 shooting with 6 rebounds in 24 minutes on court. The win ensured Crvena remained on top in the standings, while Partizan held onto fourth position.
For Duop Reath and FMP Belgrade, while the game would also go down to the wire, it was a vastly different contest. After a solid first term saw them take a 4 point lead, FMP were trounced 9-23 in the second by Petrol Olimpija to trail by 10 at the main break. They took over the game in the third, to close the margin to just 1, before two late free throws stole a 64-63 win for FMP.
Reath came off the bench to add 7 points and 2 blocked shots in just 12 minutes, helping FMP hang onto sixth place, 4 wins behind Partizan.
Brock Motum saw just 14 minutes off the bench as Anadolu Efes Istanbul were outplayed 66-84 by Turkish rivals Fenerbahce Istanbul in the EuroLeague. The 2016 Rio Olympian gathered 4 points and 3 rebounds his his limited opportunities, as Efes now looks to regroup to take on FC Barcelona Lassa this week in a tight battle for fourth place.
Over in Germany, Crailsheim pulled themselves out of the relegation zone courtesy of an 87-82 win against Mitteldeutscher BC. The Merlins finished the stronger of the two sides, with South East Melbourne Phoenix recruit Ben Madgen adding 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the win.
s.Oliver Würzburg's final aspirations took a hit as they fell to another playoff challenger in Basketball Löwen Braunschweig also in the German Bundesliga. After a tight first three quarters, Braunschweig unleashed a devastating 35-19 final term to take an 87-78 victory. First year forward Xavier Cooks poured in a game-high 24 points (10-15 FG) with 7 rebounds but Würzburg were unable to find a way to thwart their opponents in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Matur Maker went close to registering another double-double but was unable to prevent Zlatorog Laško falling short 71-81 to Šenčur in Slovenia. The big man compiled 8 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals in the 10 point loss, leaving his side tied in sixth place.
In the Spanish second division, Obi Kyei played 29 minutes for 15 points and 3 rebounds as Forca Lleida fell 72-83 to Melilla. Former Melbourne United forward Dan Trist turned out for Caceres in the same competition, chiming in with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. However despite his solid showing, Caceres went down to Valladolid 66-74 and remain in second last place.