Eurocup and Euroleague action for the Australian men last week was highlighted by a team's first loss despite a big individual performance and some much-needed wins by others.
Brad Newley's team Herbalife Gran Canaria were flying high and unbeaten, with 13 straight Eurocup wins going into their game against Turkish side Banvit Bandirma. However all that would chance as hosts Banvit led from start to finish to inflict Gran Canaria's first loss of the season 80-70 and secure a share of first place with the Spanish side in Group H.
Gran Canaria's first loss came despite a stellar game from Newley. The veteran Boomer poured in an team-high 18 points including an impressive 3/5 from beyond the arc to help keep his side in the game. After giving up a 10 point lead at the main break, Newley's team fought back admirably to make a game of it. Yet Banvit responded to score 10 unanswered points and were well paced by Can Maxim Mutaf with 22 points and 5 three-pointers.
If were not for the early runs of Banvit and Gran Canaria's 16 turnovers, the Spaniards were in with a chance. One could argue that it was also the loss they had to have and it is better to do so before the knockout stages. In any case, they can still earn the head-to-head advantage by winning their next game in the return battle at home in the next round.
Newley has been in outstanding form in Eurocup this season, delivering 12 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting an excellent 52.6% from the field and 48.8% from downtown. Like Broekhoff and Goulding, he appears to have really benefited from playing with the Boomers at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Without a win to their name in the last 32 stage of competition, Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul ventured to Lithuania to take on Neptuna Klaipeda knowing another loss may well spell doom for their aspirations. Thanks to an inspiring 20-5 Besiktas run spanning either side of half time, the visitors managed to record a memorable 69-62 victory.
Besiktas were made to work hard for their win, overcoming Neptunas' early good work thanks to Deividas Gailius (12 points). The scoring efforts of JaJuan Johnson with 18 points and 8 rebounds and Chris Lofton with 17 points helped spark the visitor's charge. Despite Neptunas mounting a furious late-game charge, Besiktas maintained their composure with Lofton and Ryan Broekhoff perfect from the line in the dying minutes to seal the win.
2014 World Cup representative and Turkish League All Star Broekhoff provided great support in the win, chipping in 5 points with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. While his point production was well down, he provided valuable contributions defensively, with his rebounding and his composure from the charity stripe down the stretch.
Besiktas improved to 1-2 and will look to balance that ledger with another win against Neptuas in the next round. This time the Turkish side will be looking to use their home court advantage to secure another much-needed win.
Credit: CAI ZARAGOZA / Ramón Comet
Travelling to Russia, CAI Zaragoza took on Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd who were looking for their first taste of victory in Eurocup's last 32 stage. For Zaragoza, they were looking to earn a crucial win to keep within reach of the group leaders.
The first half was a close contest, with the home team creating the early ascendancy thanks to some timely big shots from Randy Culpepper (21 points). Zaragoza remained in the hunt and made some big shots of their own, however Krasny Oktyabr managed to close out the first half on a mini-run to edge ahead 42-33. After the main break, the hosts maintained that run until it became 11-0 and from their Zaragoza played catch-up basketball.
While Zaragoza mounted a number of challenges to close the margin, just was they would bring the margin back to single digits, Krasny Oktyabr would halt their run and therefore successfully defend their lead to eventually prevail 71-66. The 21-14 second quarter ultimately proved the difference, with Zaragoza shooting 45.9% from the field for the game to Krasny Oktyabr's 48.8% contributing to the final outcome.
Australian Boomer Chris Goulding was well held offensively, finishing with just 2 points on 0/5 shooting alongside 1 rebound and 1 assist in 24 minutes. It was a performance well below his 12.5 points per game Eurocup average and one he will be hoping to bounce back from quickly. Now with a 1-2 record, Zaragoza once again faces Krasny Oktyabr next week in the return home encounter and an opportunity to seek immediate retribution.
Watch Eurocup action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week’s games being broadcast are as follows (all times AEDST):
Wednesday, 28th January
7:00am LIVE: Cedevita Zagreb (HRV) vs. Virtus Roma (ITA)
Thursday, 29th January
3:00am LIVE: Khimki (RUS) vs. PAOK Thessaloniki (GRC)
Round 4 of the Top 16 saw Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul miss an opportunity to secure third place in Group E ahead of giants FC Barcelona and Panathinaikos Athens. Playing at home in an empty stadium (due to sanctions) against German side ALBA Berlin, the Turkish side was unable to hold off a second half charge that resulted in a 65-75 loss that may yet come back to haunt them.
Missing star guard Carlos Arroyo due to illness, Galatasaray was able to compete with ALBA in what proved to be a tight first half. Both teams traded the lead, although it was the visitors that managed to take the initiative in the second half to draw ahead. Yet Galatasaray would not go away, with the game in the balance in the dying minutes. When ALBA's Reggie Redding and then Vojdan Stojanovski connected on two consecutive triples in the last couple of minutes ensured the German side would return home with the win.
Australian center Aleks Maric came off the bench to contribute 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 12 minutes. Maric remains in the rotation as the back up pivot and provided a spark in the second quarter and some key minutes in the final period.
Galatasaray now boasts a 2-2 record and will look to improve on that in their next game against Panathinaikos Athens who also have the same record.
Watch Euroleague action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week’s games being broadcast are as follows:
Friday, 30th January
6:45am LIVE: Anadolu Efes Istanbul (TUR) vs. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRC)
8:45am DELAYED: CSKA Moscow (RUS) vs. Nizhny Novgorod (RUS)
Saturday, 31st January
9:00am DELAYED: Panathinaikos Athens vs. Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul (TUR) - featuring Australian Aleks Maric