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Tough opening for the Aussies in EuroLeague and EuroCup
The elite EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons commenced last week, with a number of Australian men taking to the hardwood in an exciting, albeit tough, round 1 of action.
In the 2017-18 EuroLeague season, Brock Motum has switched clubs from Zalgiris Kaunas to Anadolu Efes Istanbul, while Jonah Bolden is suiting up for Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Opening round 1 on the road at Alba Berlin, Maccabi used a barnstorming 19-0 final quarter surge to overrun the home side to record a convincing 71-88 victory. The home side were the ones in control early, yet Maccabi fought back strongly to even things up by half time, taking a 1 point lead.
Pierre Jackson bankrolled Maccabi's win, draining a perfect 5-of-5 three-pointers as the Israeli club earned a well deserved 71-88 road win. Philadelphia 76ers draft pick Bolden started but found the going tough in his first EuroLeague contest. The dynamic big man contributed just 2 points with 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in playing just 12 minutes. He will have time to adjust to the standard of competition, with Maccabi's next opponent at home against
Motum and Efes Istanbul hosted Spanish giants Real Madrid and rising star Luka Doncic. It was the visitors who started the stronger thanks to a 28-19 opening term that proved highly entertaining, and the contest quickly became the Doncic show. The Slovenian prodigy delivered a new career-best 27 points to consign Efes to a 74-88 opening round loss [video highlights].
The Boomers forward started for Efes but unfortunately had little impact on the game. He was able to add 4 points on 2-of-5 shooting with 2 rebounds in 24 minutes. Both he and Efes will need to lift in time for their next game against Valencia.
The EuroCup season tipped off this week, with Ryan Broekhoff, Ben Madgen and Tom Wilson’s sides all pooled together in Group C that will see plenty of Australian match-ups during the regular season.
Russian side Lokomotiv Kuban earned an impressive come-from-behind road victory against French outfit Limoges. The home side got off to a solid start to open up a 14-8 first quarter advantage. However Broekhoff’s triple that beat the shot-clock had Lokomotiv edge ahead for the first time at 24-27. The contest turned into a defensive battle of attrition, and when Broekhoff dialled long distance once again, the visitors the visitors open up a handy lead. In a frantic final term, Joe Ragland and Chris Babb shared Lokomotiv's 14 final quarter points, as Limoges’ last gasp attempts to earn the win came up fruitless, resulting in a thrilling 61-63 win to Lokomotiv.
Broekhoff finished with 6 points on 2-of-3 three-pointers, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 blocked shots in 20 minutes as a starter. With a win under their belt, they head home to host Alba Berlin in the next round.
Lietuvos Rytas’ campaign got off on the wrong track courtesy of a favourable 83-93 loss to Bilbao. Veteran guard Madgen had a tough night at the office, restricted to just 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting, with 6 rebounds and 2 assists. After a tight first period, Bilbao opened up a 12 point half time lead. They withstood a late rally that saw Rytas close to within 4 points, eventually winning by 10. Former Townsville import Mickell Gladness had 12 points for the Spanish victors.
Madgen and Rytas next head to Serbia to take on Partizan Belgrade who boast rookie Australian guard Tom Wilson. Partizan suffered a 26 point thrashing at the hands of German side Alba Berlin (85-111). Berlin were far too organised and composed for Partizan, trouncing them in the first half and cruising to a blowout win. Somewhat fortunately for Wilson, he did not suit up in the large loss.