Congratulations to Cedevita Zagreb, FC Bayern Munich, ratiopharm Ulm, UCAM Murcia, Unicaja Malaga and Zenit St. Petersburg, which booked spots in the top 16 on Wednesday! Seven Top 16 spots remain up for grabs, with only one team, Group B’s Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, out of contention.
Cedevita Zagreb held off Lietkabelis Panevezys 68-69 on the road to punch its Top 16 ticket. It was the fourth consecutive win for Cedevita, which improved it to 4-2 and took sole possession of second place in Group A. Lietkabelis, which had previously qualified for the next stage, dropped to 3-3. Cedevita led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, but the hosts tied the game at 59-59 in the fourth, before Marko Tomas and Marko Arapovic scored key baskets in the final minute to secure the visitors’ win. Tomas finished with a EuroCup career-best 23 points on 4-for-8 three-point shooting, and Arapovic collected 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 16 for the hosts. Herbalife Gran Canaria improved to 5-1 and kept first place in the group by downing Nizhny Novgorod 98-87 at home. Gran Canaria had already qualified to the Top 16 last week. Nizhny dropped to 2-3 and will fight with MZT Skopje Aerodom for the only available spot left in Group A. Kyle Kuric led the winners with 18 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Sasu Salin and Pablo Aguilar each added 14 for Gran Canaria, which had 21 assists and committed just 9 turnovers. Gran Canaria also locked down the defensive glass really well, only allowing Nizhny to grab just 5 offensive rebounds. Kenneth Boynton led Nizhny with 19 points and Ivan Strebkov added 18.
No team found its way to the next stage from Group B in Round 7. Khimki Moscow Region bested Montakit Fuenlabrada 96-84 to improve to 4-2, but needed another result to go its way to advance… and RETAbet Bilbao Basket did not comply. Fuenlabrada fell to 3-3. Jacob Pullen led the winners with 20 points off the bench and Alexey Shved added 19 and 8 assists. Rolands Smits paced Fuenlabrada with a career-high 21 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting. Khimki ended up hitting 61.5% of its two-point shots and limited Fuenlabrada to a low shooting percentage (45.7%) inside the arc. RETAbet Bilbao Basket edged ALBA Berlin 88-92 in front of over 8,500 fans in the German capital. Bilbao improved to 2-3 in Group B, while ALBA dropped to 3-3. Miha Lapornik led the winners with 18 points, including back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to bring Bilbao back in the game early in the fourth quarter. He made the difference with 14 points in the final 10 minutes and helped Bilbao take the lead in crunch time. Ivan Buva added 14 and Alex Mumbru had 11 for Bilbao. Neils Giffey and Elmedin Kikanovic led ALBA with 20 points apiece. The hosts led 65-57 late in the third quarter, but Lapornik's late heroics helped RETAbet to stay in the fight to reach the Top 16.
Unicaja Malaga defeated winless Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 93-75 to not only clinch a place in the Top 16, but to bring FC Bayern Munich, UCAM Murcia and idle Zenit St. Petersburg with it. Unicaja hit 15 three-point shots and improved to 3-2, while Buducnost dropped to 0-6 and was mathematically eliminated from Top 16 contention. Unicaja took the lead for good in the first quarter, and never looked back behind Kyle Fogg who finished with 31 points on 6-for-10 three-point shooting. Both Bayern and UCAM advanced while on the court, but stayed focused on their close game that wasn’t decided until late. Bayern rallied for a 79-90 victory thanks to Nick Johnson, who starred in a 0-13 fourth-quarter run with 9 points and an assist as Bayern took control and raised its record to 4-2, while dropping UCAM to the same record. Since Bayern also defeated UCAM earlier in the season, it now sits atop the group standings. Maxi Kleber led the winners with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Johnson finished with 16 points. Billy Baron was perfect in 14 trips to the foul line and led UCAM with 24 points.
In a clash of former EuroCup champs, Valencia Basket secured its grip on first place in Group D by holding off Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 84-86 on Wednesday in the Israeli capital. Antoine Diot scored 21 points, dished 6 assists and came up with a key steal late to help Valencia improve to 5-1. Jerusalem lost its second straight game to slip to 3-2. Valencia led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter before Jerusalem rallied to take the lead. The game came down to the final seconds, but Valencia held on from the line. Later, Union Olimpija Ljubljana held off ratiopharm Ulm 76-72 to register its first win, but Ulm clinched its place in the Top 16 despite the loss. Olimpija used a second-quarter run to take the lead for good and increased the margin to a double-digits in the fourth quarter. Mirko Mulalic scored 16 points in victory and Gregor Hrovat added 13 for the hosts. Per Guenther netted 15 in defeat.