EuroView: Motum's Zalgiris sweep quarterfinal series
As the European season nears a conclusion, there are still many Australians in action and in championship contention in their respective national leagues.
Over in Lithuania, BC Zalgiris Kaunas swept quarterfinal opponents Pieno Zvaigzdes 3-0, moving on to face Juventus in the semifinals. Brock Motum averaged 7.7 points and 2.7 rebounds across the series, with the highlight for Motum coming in the opening game where he put up 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Still in Lithuania, Angus Brandt's BC Neptunas Klaipeda advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 series win against Siauliai. Neptunas won a thrilling game 4 on the road, coming away with an 86-87 victory. Brand came off the bench to play 9 minutes for a valuable 2 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. In their 83-77 win in game 1, Brandt delivered 11 points (3/4 FG, 5/6 FT) with 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot in 17 minutes. They will take on Lietuvos Rytas in their semifinal series.
JDA Dijon secured the crucial win over David Andersen’s ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne with a dominating 72-49 performance in the French Pro A. Dijon played well in the first quarter, building a 7-point lead that blew out to 18 at the half, effectively locking up the win. Andersen did little to aid the home sides chances, going scoreless (0/4 FG) with 6 rebounds in only 13 minutes. ASVEL choked in an important game, coughing up the ball 18 times and allowing Dijon to do as they pleased. The win for Dijon moves them level with ASVEL with 20 wins and 13 losses on the eve of finals.
Brad Newley’s Herbalife Gran Canaria took the best shots of seventeenth-ranked Estudiantes and survived 82-80 in a tight game. Gran Canaria jumped out to an early lead as expected, only for the underdogs to get back in the game with an 18-27 third quarter. Newley came off the bench for 7 points (3/6 FG), 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 minutes. It was far from a complete performance from Gran Canaria, who recorded 18 assists, yet shot just 5/23 from behind the arc. Gran Canaria now have a stranglehold on the 5th spot in the league table with 20 wins, three more than 6th ranked Unicaja.
Over in Belgium, it was a rough shooting day for former Sydney Kings guard Ben Madgen, as his side VOO Verviers-Pepinster were accounted for 62-74 after a second-half collapse. Up by 2 points at half-time, the visitors proceeded to score just 23 points for the rest of the game. Madgen did his best to get it going for Verviers-Pepinster, but the shots just weren’t falling. He finished 4/14 from the field in tallying 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Shooting 5/21 from three-point range didn’t help Verviers-Pepinster’s cause, but in the end they were beaten by a better team, though not one they should have rolled over so easily to in the second half.
Ryan Broekhoff’s Lokomotiv Kuban lost to Khimky 0-3 in the VTB United League quarterfinals after a 71-86 loss in game 3. Broekhoff was a non-factor for Lokomotiv, playing just 9 minutes in providing 2 points and 5 rebounds. Khimky put on an offensive clinic and ran their opponents into the ground, with 26 assists and 63% shooting inside the arc. It was a letdown for Lokomotiv and they will look to focus on the three solid quarters they put together instead of the 10-26 run the conceded in the third quarter.
While they bowed out, it was clear that Lokomotiv's focus was on the fast approaching Euroleague Final Four, resting the majority of their key starters throughout the series loss to Khimky. The Euroleague Final Four commences on 14 May (Australian time) with Lokomotiv taking on fellow Russian side CSKA Moscow.
Aleks Maric played 14 minutes off the bench for Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro in their overtime win over Dominion Bilbao Basket. Maric added 2 points and 3 rebounds in the 93-89 victory as coach Fernandez spread the minutes around the roster. His side remains in 16th place, one win ahead of Estudiantes.