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EuroView: Motum returns from injury, Madgen avoids relegation
European playoff action continues to heat up for the Australian men, while a few other leagues wrapped up this week, with Ben Madgen leading his team to a relegation-avoiding win while Brock Motum made a successful return from injury in time for the EuroLeague Final Four.
Crailsheim required a win in the final round of the German Bundesliga season against second ranked EWE Baskets Oldenburg, a side who entered the game on a seven game winning streak. They also needed other results to fall their way.
With everything to play for, Crailsheim managed to keep things close up until the start of the final term. There, they unleashed a 27-13 onslaught that not only upset one of the championship contenders 99-87, but also ensured they avoided relegation. Ben Madgen played an important role for the winners, pouring in 15 points with 2 assists in a terrific performance that is sure to whet the appetites of South East Melbourne Phoenix fans.
While there was reason to celebrate for Crailsheim, it was only more heartbreak for s.Oliver Würzburg. Needing to win their final game of the season to make the playoffs - just a week after narrowly missing out on being crowned FIBA Europe Cup champions - things did not go right against EuroLeague side Brose Bamburg.
The fifth ranked team were relentless from the outset, exploding out of the blocksfor a 30-15 opening quarter leading, before continuing to pile on the pressure on their way to a resounding 97-65 victory. Xavier Cooks completed his impressive debut season with a meagre 4 points and 2 assists in a foul plagued 20 minutes. Würzburg were dominated in the paint, trailing the rebound count 20-45 whil Bamburg made them pay at the free throw line in hitting a remarkable 25-26 shots.
In the Turkish Basketball League, Anadolu Efes Istanbul secured the minor premiership following a 105-74 dismantling of Afyon to close out the regular season. Brock Motum made his return from a hamstring injury, coming off the bench to play 12 minutes for an impressive 11 points and 2 rebounds in quick time. Efes' attention now shifts to the EuroLeague Final Four this weekend, taking on cross-town rivals Fenerbahce in the first semi-final.
Dynamic VP earned an 80-73 victory against Novi Pazar in the Serbian KLS, with Mirko Djeric playing an important role. The sweet-shooting guard added 6 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes, helping his team improve to 2-3 in Group B, just one win behind second placed Mega Bemax heading into round 6 of the second stage.
In the Polish league quarter-finals, Legia Warszawa were bundled out of the playoffs 2-1 by Arka Gdynia after falling short 75-94 in the deciding game 3 despite another very good game from Keanu Pinder. The 6'8 forward added 14 points including an impressive 8-10 from the free throw line to go with 6 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 21 minutes. Legia's opponents drained 12-39 three-pointers compared to their own 5-19 from long-range, as their season ended at the hands of the minor premiers.
Second placed Vanoli Cremona completed their regular season with a disappointing 81-82 road loss to fourteenth ranked Grissin Reggio, ending their 5 game winning streak. Mangok Mathiang played just 16 minutes and added 7 points and 9 rebounds, as Vanoli played their bench extensively with the knowledge that they had locked up second place in the standings. Vanoli will now take on Trieste in the quarter-finals commencing this week.
In the Israeli second division championship series, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr's Hapoel Galilee fell in game one 80-81 to Maccabi Haifa at home in a contest befitting the occasion. Nothing separated either side throughout, and it was just that the visitors managed to sneak ahead when the siren sounded. The athletic 7-footer gathered 17 points with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block as the series heads to Haifa for game two.
Plymouth's British Basketball League's run in the playoffs has come to an end at the hands of Leicester in the semi-finals, going down in the second leg of the home-and-away 73-85. The Raiders were held to just 30 second half points, consigning them to playoffs exit via a 141-155 series aggregate. Josh Wilcher concluded his outstanding season with 12 points, 2 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss. He will now return home to play in the QBL with the Townsville Heat.
David Andersen and Nathan Sobey were used sparingly in Strasbourg's 87-73 win against lowly Le Portel in the French LNB. Andersen came off the bench to shoot a perect 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the line for a quickfire 11 points in just 9 minutes. Sobey on the other hand went scoreless in just 6 minutes. Strasbourg maintained their hold on sixth place in the standings ahead of the final round this week when they take on Gavelines.
Unlike Strasbourg, Levallois are destined to miss the French playoffs. They went down to Antibes 86-92 in the second last round of the regular season, with Nathan Jawai also seeing little court time. The veteran big man played just 6 minutes off the bench for 3 rebounds and 1 rebound against the last placed team who is destined for relegation.
In the French Pro B, Denain lost a thrilling shootout to Vichy Clermont 97-102. In the high scoring affair, Chima Moneke added just 4 points but with 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 minutes as a starter. Paris and Dan Dillon enjoyed better fortunes, registering a 81-73 win against Nantes. Dillon had 5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the victory, however his team remains
Reports out of Europe are also suggesting that Jock Landale may be headed to Lithuanian giants Zalgiris Kaunas - the former club of fellow Australian Brock Motum. A perennial contender in the EuroLeague competition, Zalgiris, who are favourites to win the Lithuanian national league this season, have allegedly agreed to a buyout with Landale's current Serbian outfit Partizan Belgrade. No confirmation of the deal has yet been made available, but it is believed NBA out-clauses would continue to apply.