EuroView: Xavier Cooks clocks up another double-double in Germany
First year professionals Xavier Cooks and Jock Landale were again at their best in helping their teams earn wins in Europe across the past week, while on a sour note, Ben Madgen has been sidelined by an ankle injury in Germany.
s.Oliver Würzburg's run to an unlikely playoff berth continued as they won a fourth straight game, this time a 101-84 victory against fellow playoff aspirants Giessen. In a fast-paced contest, it was Würzburg who gained the early advantage, opening up a 9 point half time lead. The third period belonged to Xavier Cooks, with the first year professional putting his all-round game on display for all to see, helping his side extend the margin to 20. From there, Würzburg cruised home to take the win underpinned by a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes from Cooks.
The former Winthrop star was outstanding, shooting 7-10 from the field including 2-3 from beyond the arc, while also adding 3 assists with a plus/minus of 26 and an efficiency rating of an impressing 32. Würzburg has closed to within 2 games of eighth place and will look to carry that form over to their FIBA Europe Cup second round clash against Szolnoki Olaj to maintain their unbeaten run in the second round, before taking on Ben Madgen's Crailsheim Merlins on the weekend.
With an opportunity to move off the bottom of the table, Crailsheim let slip their chance against Fraport. Falling behind by 11 points after the opening term, the Merlins were more than competitive, however they never made up the margin to go down 69-77. Madgen missed the game with an ankle sprain, one that is expected to see him miss the match-up against compatriot Cooks this week.
In the Adriatic League, Jock Landale and Partizan enjoyed a big 83-59 win against Cibona. Partizan took control from the outset, owning all four periods to pull away for the big win. Landale was once again at his consistent best, contributing 12 points on 4-6 shooting with 4 rebounds in a foul plagued 22 minutes. With the win, Partizan ensured that they remained 3 wins ahead of fifth placed Mega Bemax and just one win away from second.
After a brilliant few weeks, Duop Reath had an increasingly rare quiet offensive night as FMP Belgrade accounted for Krka 76-71 also in the ABA Liga. Despite trailing by 11 at the end of the third, FMP unleashed a blistering 25-9 final quarter to overrun Krka to steal the 5 point win. Reath added just 2 points but had 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocked shots as a starter in 30 minutes. the victory consigned Krka to the bottom of the standings, while lifting FMP into sixth place.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul dropped their second straight EuroLeague contest when they fell to Greek giants Panathinaikos Athens 75-88 on the road. The visitors were jumped at the start, and while they closed to within 3 points in the third term, but that would be as close as they got as the home side finished strongly to win by 13 points. Brock Motum was barely used and had little chance to influence the result, with the 2016 Rio Olympian playing almost 7 minutes for just 1 point and 1 rebound off the bench. Despite the loss, Efes held onto fourth place in the standings.
Despite yet another double-double from Mangok Mathiang, Vanoli Cremona unravelled against Acqua S.Bernardo Cantù in the Italian Serie A. Mathiang compiled 12 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 34 minutes, but Cremona could not overhaul a 20 point half time deficit to drop a 82-66 result. While still in third position following their loss to tenth ranked Cantù, Cremona are now tied with three other teams in the standings.
Zlatorog Laško caused a massive upset in the Slovenian league, taking down second placed Petrol Olimpija 83-72. They used a 21-11 run in the second period to set up victory, with very little separating either side throughout the other three-quarters. Matur Maker continued is good season, delivering a 12-point and 10-rebound double-double, also adding 2 assists and 2 steals as a starter in almost 33 minutes. Zlatorog Laško are now in a position to move away from the bottom of the standings if they can keep winning over coming weeks.
Keanu Pinder gathered 13 points on 5-9 shooting in 18 minutes off the bench for Legia Warszawa in their 78-85 loss to second placed Arka Gdynia in the Polish league. Warszawa fought bravely throughout, but were outscored in each of the final three-quarters en route to the 7 point loss. His side is sitting mid-table with a 9-9 overall record.
In the French Pro B, Denain registered a thrilling 1-point win against Aix-Maurienne. With Chima Moneke compiling 12 points (5-9 FG), 4 rebounds and 2 assists, Denain almost let slip a 10 point half time lead before holding on for a 68-67 win. Dan Dillon and Paris did not have as much luck, falling short to Saint-Chamond 66-75. While Dillon added 12 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists, he shot 5-14 from the field while his team shot a woeful 4-13 (31%) from the free throw line, undoing any chance they had at victory.