All three Australians in action across EuroCup and EuroLeague this week were on the wrong end of the results despite all providing valuable contributions to their teams.
Taking on powerhouse Olympiacos Piraeus in round two of EuroLeague, Valencia found themselves in an offensive black hole in the first half. If it were not for Brock Motum's 6 points in the opening term, the damage would have been worse, with Valencia finding themselves behind by 9 points at quarter time. With Motum taking a rest, Olympiacos extended their lead in the second, blowing the margin out to 24 points at the main break.
When Motum was on the court, Valencia's otherwise impotent offense looked much more balanced. The Queenslander would finish with 12 points while shooting an efficient 3 of 4 shooting, also hitting 4 of 6 from the free throw line. However the damage had already been done, with Olympiacos recording an 89-63 win. Motum was one of just two players to score in double figures for Valencia, while Olympiacos boasted six players, led by Vassilis Spanoulis' 17 points and 6 assists. Valencia are now 0-2 to open the season and with work ahead of them.
Also encountering a large first quarter deficit were Žalgiris Kaunas in their EuroLeague outing on the road in Italy against Milan. Žalgiris were on the back foot early, finding themselves trailing 4-20 to open to game before giving up a 16 point lead at the first break. They would roll up their sleeves and work their way back into the contest in the second period, outscoring Milan 29-20 for the term to close to within 7 at half time.
Every time Zalgiris threatened, it seemed Sergia Rodriguez would respond for Milan as he compiled a team-high 17 points. Yet the visitors would keep chipping away to set up a thrilling finish. Jock Landale would score twice in the paint down the stretch to help Zalgiris edge to within 2 points inside the last minute, but Milan would hold on to record their first win of the competition 85-81, consigning Zalgiris to a winless start.
Landale compiled 10 points (3-8 FG) with 4 rebounds in playing 26 minutes as a starter. He was one of three players to score in double figures for the visitors, with teammate Thomas Walkup leading all scorers with 19 points as Zalgiris won the final three quarters. They will look back on that terrible opening quarter and rue a missed opportunity to register an important road win.
In his return from a lower leg muscle injury, Cameron Bairstow was inserted into the starting lineup for Rytas Vilnius in their EuroCup game against French side Limoges.
In a terrific contest, little separated either side up to three-quarter time, with the home side Limoges managing to hold onto a 4 point advantage. Limoges lifted their defensive intensity at the start of the final term that kick-started a devastating 19-6 and put the result out of Rytas' reach, going on to register an 82-61 victory.
Bairstow was solid for Rytas, contributing 7 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out in just under 22 minutes. Rytas shot a poor 13 of 25 from the free throw line, and it was not helped by Bairstow's 5 of 9 clip. Former NBL import Brian Conklin chimed in with 10 points and 3 rebounds for Limoges in their win.