This week we once again review how the Australian men fared in Eurocup, Euroleague and the EuroChallenge. It is not surprising to see a few familiar names continuing their great form.
In Group B, Herbalife Gran Canaria remain unbeaten with an 6-0 record after they easily accounted for FoxTown Cantu 80-63 away from home. In fact with the big win, Gran Canaria became the first team to qualify for the last 32 and is now only one of two teams who remain without a loss (Lokomotiv Kuban, Group F). Brad Newley continued to demonstrate his value, this time contributing 14 points that included 2/3 from beyond the arc as his team led from start to finish. He also chimed in with 6 rebounds and 2 steals in starting, now averaging 9.5 points while shooting 51% from the field and 40% from 3-point territory. He will be sure to be an important piece as the Spanish team look to ride their good form as their return home to host Telenet Ostend.
Brad Newley - Courtesy Herbalife Gran Canaria
ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne improved to 3-3 in Group B thanks to a thrilling 84-83 win over the Artland Dragons. However Australian veteran centre David Andersen was noticeably absent in the close win that secured a head-to-head advantage over the German side and moved into 3rd place. Andersen's ASVEL next take on fellow French team and 2nd placed JDA Dijon; a team they lost to in their first encounter against each other in Group B.
Playing in Group D, Besiktas maintained their standing at the top of the table in a commanding 80-57 road victory over Union Olimpija. Five 3-pointers in the first quarter propelled Besiktas to an early lead and from that point on were never seriously challenged as they ended the 3-game winning streak of Olimipija. Ryan Broekhoff has been in stellar form this season, this time collecting only 6 points on two 3-pointers, but he maintained his excellent rebounding with 8 and 1 assist. The sharp-shooting swingman is now averaging 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting at a very high 50% from the field and 46.4% from downtown. With a place in the final 32 now all but confirmed, Besiktas next travel to St Petersburg as they look to improve upon their impressive 5-1 record.
Taking on Paris-Levallois on the road, CAI Zaragoza pushed their French opponents all the way but ended up on the wrong end of a 87-90 loss. Once again Australian guard Chris Goulding was in very good form, scoring 14 points on 5/11 shooting alongside 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in almost 32 minutes on court. Former Perth Wildcat Kevin Lisch came up with a pair of free throws down the stretch to close the gap, however his chance to win and then tie up the game in the dying seconds both missed resulting in a narrow 3 point loss.
Goulding has more than put behind him the disappointment of missing out on a spot in the NBA, posting 16.8 points per game at a blistering 63.6% from the field and 47.4% from beyond the arc; numbers that are sure to attract increased attention. With the loss, Zaragoza are reduced to a 2-4 record and are now in 5th place in Group A ahead of their next clash with group leaders Strasbourg this coming week. A loss will almost certainly see them fall out of contention to reach the next round.
Chris Goulding - Courtesy © Basket CAI Zaragoza (Esther Casas)
Rounding out the Australian action in Eurocup, Daniel Johnson was in action for Stelmet Zielona Gora who were looking to secure their first win as they took on unbeaten Group F leaders Lokomotiv Kuban away from home. Despite creating a 6 point lead that they took into the main break, Lokomotiv would prove far too strong, eventually prevailing 78-68. After a solid individual start to the season, Johnson has found himself relegated to a minor role in coming off the bench, this time providing 4 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in just 13 minutes. Zielona Gora will now look ahead to their clash against 2nd placed Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki at home with the hope that they can finally earn a win.
Reigning champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv travelled to 5th placed Limoges CSP and were made to work hard in returning home with a 79-73 win. Maccabi, who trailed after the end of the first quarter, bounced back to take a lead into the half time break and were never headed despite a late Limoges run. Center Aleks Maric has been used sparingly of late, and in just 5 minutes of action, provided 3 rebounds against the French side. In their next contest, Maccabi take on current Group B leader CSKA Moscow at home - a game that should be a must-see event for any basketball fan in a battle of two of the strongest clubs in Europe.
In what must surely go down as the game of the week, if not the season, Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul took on Crvena Zvezda in an absolute nail-biter that required two extra periods. It was a game of epic proportions, with the hosts taking a 5 point lead after the first half. However the visitors would then string together a 14-0 run to open the second half to take the fight back to Galatasaray. The hosts' Zoran Erceg provided the first heroics, nailing a long triple in the closing seconds to force overtime as the visitors prayer at the buzzer missed.
Five lead changes in the first extra period could not find a result, and the the second overtime stanza, Spanish superstar and former NBA player Carlos Arroyo (26 points) proved the difference and helped lead Galatasaray to an enthralling 110-103 win. The Euroleague record for assists was broken by Crvena Zvezda's Marcus Williams who dished out a staggering 17 assists. Despite 50 minutes being required to generate a result, Nathan Jawai only saw 3 minutes for 2 points (a nice dunk in the game highlights) and 2 rebounds. Galatasaray are now in a log-jam with Crvena Zvezda and Neptunas Kleipeda with 3-3 records all in equal 2nd place. They next travel to Italy to take on Valencia and enhance their chances of securing 2nd place in Group D.
Euroleague Top 10 Plays of the Week: Round 6
Playing at home, CSM Oradea were hoping to secure a much-needed win against Turkish side Tofas. A blistering first quarter by Oradea had them well placed after securing a 15 point lead. However Tofas stepped up a gear, overhauled the lead and moved away from their Romanian hosts to eke out a 77-69 win. Australian guard Daniel Dillon did his best to carry his team to a win, providing 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal in 33 minutes. Without a win after 3 games, Oradea will now look towards their next home game against BC Astana featuring former Australian Anatoly Kolesnikov (Bose) for their first win in Group D.