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EuroView: Xavier Cooks up a storm in Germany
The resumption of the FIBA Europe Cup was perfect timing for Xavier Cooks as he served up a storm, while Mangok Mathiang used his muscle to monster the opposition in Italy with a big double-double.
Cooks was simply brilliant for s.Oliver Würzburg as they stormed past Hungarian side Szolnoki Olaj 118-71, powering his way to a second consecutive team of the week performance. The 6'8 first year professional was on fire from all across the court, draining 5-6 three-pointers and shooting 10-12 from the field on his way to a career-high 25 points. He rounded out his exceptional outing with 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block, finishing as the most efficient player in the game (+31).
"It was a good team win," outlined Cooks who helped his side stay at the top of the Group I standings with an unmatched 3-0 record.
"Most of my points today came from assisted buckets. We were doing a great job penetrating and passing the ball, so I was just moving well, got the ball and knocked down shots."
The former Winthrop star has been a revelation for Würzburg this season and has been in a rich vein of form in the FIBA Europe Cup after amassing 18 points and 16 rebounds in their previous game, a thrilling win over Pinar Karsiyaka. He has posted averages of 11.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, but his impact hs not been limited to this competition.
Returning to the German Bundesliga, Cooks was at the forefront yet again as Würzburg held off Mitteldeutscher BC to register an important 7-84 win to maintain their slim playoff hopes. A 26-15 third quarter proved the difference, with Cooks finishing the game with 13 points (6-10 FG), 6 rebounds and 4 assists in another all-round effort. In their next game, they take on the Crailsheim Merlins who feature fellow Australian Ben Madgen, a side that enjoyed the weekend off following a first road win of the season a week earlier.
In one of his best performances this season, former Charlotte Hornet Mangok Mathiang flexed his muscle for Vanoli Cremona in a convincing 98-81 win against Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia in the Italian Serie A and remind everyone that he is a potential Australian Boomer. Grissin Bon had no answer for the size and strength of Mathiang who owned the paint at both ends. The 6'10 centre monstered his opponents in delivering season-high's of 18 points, 18 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Cremona won every quarter, and behind the imposing play of Mathiang, maintained their standing in equal third place on the rankings. In almost averaging a double-double with 9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, Mathiang leads the Serie A in field goal shooting percentage (63.9%) and is fifth in rebounding.
Partizan and Jock Landale continued to do no wrong this week as they first registered another important win in the EuroCup and then backing up with another victory in the Adriatic League. Landale was one of five players to score in double figures as Partizan held off ALBA Berlin 78-66 at home. The former Saint Mary's star added 9 of his 13 points in the final term to ensure the home side would come away with the win. The Victorian was forced from the game early with two quick fouls, before returning late to dominate the interior. He threw down a big dunk and converted a three-point play to restore Partizan's double-digit margin with 1:33 left in the game to ensure victory that now has all four Group E sides tied with a 1-1 record.
Landale played just 20 minutes in Partizan's return to the ABA Liga, as his side made light work of Krka, 87-55. With his side dominating the opposition across all four quarters, Partizan spread the minutes, with Landale adding 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in his stint. Their big win shored up their fourth position in the standings, now within one game of third placed Buducnost.
It was Buducnost who took down FMP Belgrade, with Duop Reath's side overrun 70-87 against their higher ranked opponents. Reath continued his solid debut professional season by contributing 8 points, 4 rebounds and an impressive 4 blocked shots in 19 minutes as a starter. However despite his best efforts, and that of his team-mates, they just did not have the firepower of their opponents who led from start to finish.
Brock Motum has been in great form this season, but was required to play just 11 minutes as Anadolu Efes Istanbul accounted for Khimki Moscow 81-72 in the EuroLeague to maintain fourth position in the standings. An 11-0 run in the second quarter that included a Motum slam dunk, saw Efes take control and from that point they never trailed. The Rio Olympian finished with 7 points (3-6 FG) and was barely required in another home victory.
Still at home but back in the Turkish Super League, Motum saw increased minutes in a start-to-finish 97-78 victory over Afyon Belediye. Efes exploded out of the blocks in the first term, before cruising to the 19-point win, with Motum leading the charge. As he has shown repeatedly this season, the Queenslander is an efficient scorer and this game was no different as he poured in 17 points on 6-9 shooting and a perfect 3-3 from the free throw line while also adding 8 rebounds. His efforts helped ensure Efes remained in second place on the table, and within 1 game of fellow EuroLeague side Fenerbahçe.
Matur Maker was again very good for Zlatorog Laško in a narrow 80-83 road loss to Šenčur in Slovenia. Before he fouled out in 24 minutes, Maker compiled 11 points on 3-5 shooting with 5 rebounds as he continued to adjust to his new league. Zlatorog Laško will rue missed opportunities at the free throw line where they made just 18-29 in their 3 point loss.
Denain held off Chartres down the stretch to register a thrilling 87-84 victory in the French Pro B. Leading by just 1, Chima Moneke pulled down the big defensive rebound on a potential game-winner by Chartres and was fouled with 3 seconds remaining. The 6'6 forward calmly sank both free throws to ice the game, with Chartres unable to get a desperation shot off. Moneke compiled an equal team-high 16 points and 7 rebounds in an encouraging performance by the former UC Davis standout.30
Also in France, Daniel Dillon added 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as Paris earned a rare 84-71 win against the higher-ranked Aix-Maurienne. Paris finished the game stronger over their more fancied rivals en route to registering just their fourth win of the season and for the first time this season, pulling out of the relegation zone.
In his first season in Poland, Keanu Pinder has worked his way into the main rotation and provided a valuable contribution off the bench in Legia Warszawa's 91-76 win against Polpharma Starogard Gdański. The 6'9 forward added 4 points and 3 rebounds before fouling out in 19 minutes. With the win, Legia Warszawa moved up into eight place, and are just 2 wins outside the top five.
Obi Kyei continues to plug away for Forca Lleida in the Spanish second division. As a starter, he posted 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in a 68-77 loss to ladder-leader Real Betis Energia Plus. Kyei's team remains entrenched mid-table, boasting a 9-8 win-loss record.