EuroView: Xavier Cooks eyes FIBA Europe Cup finals berth
First year professional Xavier Cooks had a massive week in Europe, helping his side win the first leg of the FIBA Europe Cup semi-finals, before dominating again in the German Bundesliga.
Cooks and s.Oliver Würzburg put one foot into the FIBA Europe Cup finals after steamrolling Varese 89-66 in game 1 of the best-of-two game semi-final series. After a tight opening term, Würzburg began to pull away and would never be slowed as they march to an impressive road victory. Cooks was very good, contributing 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals in the win, but he looked to lift a gear in their return to the German Bundesliga.
In a clash against top 8 ranked Ratiopharm, Cooks was at his efficient best in racking up a game-high 24 points on 10-15 shooting with 9 rebounds and 2 assists. However it was Ratiopharm who got the job done down the stretch, stealing a 95-94 win. They will turn their attention back to the FIBA Europe Cup semi-final series at home this week before heading back on the road to take on number two placed EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
Ben Madgen lit up the scoreboard for Crailsheim in their battle against EuroLeague side Brose Baskets Bamburg. The South East Melbourne Phoenix recruit also exploded for a game-high 22 points, but the lowly Crailsheim who has been battling to stay out of the relegation zone all season were outclassed, going down 92-101. It was an admirable performance by the Merlins, with Madgen shooting 8-15 from the field along with 2 assists in another fine performance by the veteran wing.
Former Charlotte Hornet big man was once again dominant in the paint as he helped guide Vanoli Cremona to an 89-86 win against Bescia in the Italian Serie A. It was a 26-14 second term that ultimately set up the win, with Mathiang adding yet another double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Cremona remain in outright third place ahead of their next game against fourth ranked Brindisi.
In France, Nathan Jawai played just 9 minutes off the bench for Levallois in their 78-83 loss to Le Portal in the LNB. Jawai went 3-5 from the field and 2-2 from the line to finish with 8 points and 1 rebound but also racked up 4 quick fouls which limited his influence in the narrow loss.
Bourg-en-brasse finished with a strong second hald to account for Strasbourg 83-73 also in the LNB. Veteran big man David Andersen came off the bench to add 9 points on 4-7 shooting alongside 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 13 minutes, but it was not enough to spark his team to victory. Fellow Aussie Nathan Sobey was quiet, going scoreless in 7 minutes off the bench, as Strasbourg managed to hand onto sixth place in the standings.
Daniel Dillon and Chima Moneke went head-to-head in the French second division, with Paris earning an 85-76 win. Dillon had 3 points and 5 assists in 17 minutes as a starter to help put his side on track for the win, while Moneke added 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists for Denain. Paris remain 3 games outside of the playoff race, while Denain is just 1 win above the relegation zone.
Former Baylor star Jo Lual-Acuil Jr delivered a huge 16 point and 14 rebound double-double as he held guide Hapoel Galilee to a 74-55 win against Ashkelon in the Israeli second division. The 7-footer hit 7-13 from the field and also blocked two shots as his team were never threatened in the 19 point win. The win kept his team in equal second place and within reach of top position before the end of the season.
Legia Warszawa's three-game winning streak in Poland came to an end at the hands of Gornicza in a battle for sixth position. Elevated to the starting line-up, Keanu Pinder continued his emergence by contributing 12 points (5-7 FG) with 8 rebounds and 1 block in 22 minutes, but Legia found themselves on the wrong end of a narrow 75-77 loss.
Josh Wilcher fired in 21 points with 6 rebounds and 7 assists as Plymouth downed the higher ranked Worcester 106-83 in the British Basketball League. The Raiders took the early lead and then after the first period were never seriously threatened, with Wilcher shooting 7-11 from the field including 5-7 on three-pointers to lead the way.
Obi Kyei's Forca Lleida held off Huesca to take a 77-74 win in the Spanish second division. Kyei added 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in just 19 minutes to provide an important spark as his side held firm in eleventh place in the standings.
Dan Trist and Caceres were not quite as fortunate, going down to Ourense 80-83 in a close contest. The South East Melbourne Phoenix forward added 12 points (5-13 FG) with 8 rebounds and 2 assists, with his side now just 1 win clear of the relegation zone.
Forward Nathaniel Musters continues to plug away in the Dutch Basketball League with Leeuwarden, who suffered a recent 69-92 loss to ladder leaders Lleiden. Musters came off the bench to add 2 points, 2 assists and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes as Leeuwarden remained in seventh place.