AEK, Bandirma secure spots in Play-Offs - Gameday 13, Wednesday roundup
MIES (Switzerland) - AEK came up on Wednesday night with a dominant first-half display to prevail over RASTA Vechta and punch their ticket to the Basketball Champions League Play-Offs for a fourth season in a row.
The Greek team's victory in Germany means that Teksut Bandirma, who were in action on Tuesday and defeated Anwil Wloclawek in Poland, also claim a postseason berth from Group B.
A minute of silence was observed before the start of every game, in the honor and memory of FIBA World Cup ambassador and two-time Olympic Gold medalist Kobe Bryant.
Let's have a closer look at all six Wednesday encounters that concluded the Gameday 13 schedule:
RASTA Vechta 70-81 AEK - Group B
AEK showcased their defensive prowess to stifle the high-scoring Vechta, grabbed a 28-point first-half lead and held on to claim an 81-70 win in Germany and a berth in the Play-Offs.
Despite playing without their leading scorer Keith Langford, AEK shot a season-high 75 percent from two-point range. More importantly, they held Vechta to just 13 points in the opening quarter and built a double-digit lead with less than four minutes left to the first buzzer.
The Greek side extended the gap to 48-20 halfway through the second quarter but the hosts started clawing their way back after the break and Trevis Simpson knocked down a triple 3:17 from the end to reduce the deficit to 75-67.
Both sides however wasted a couple of possessions each and Nikos Zisis crafted an assist to Marcus Slaughter, who restored AEK's double-digit lead with a dunk and just 1:54 remaining on the clock.
Vlado Jankovic paced AEK with 14 points and 3 assists while Nikos Zisis chipped in with 12 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. Simpson finished with a game-high 28 points for Vechta in a losing effort.
AEK have now improved to 8-5 while Vechta slide to 6-7 and in order to advance to the Play-Offs they will need on Gameday 14 a win over Burgos by seven or more points and for Bandirma to win against Pau-Orthez.
An impressive TaShawn Thomas display and two clutch Suleiman Braimoh triples helped Hapoel outlast Burgos 96-91 in a hugely entertaining game and secure a first-place finish in Group B.
The Jerusalem side appeared to be finally pulling away when a Tamir Blatt triple with 8:52 remaining in the final stanza sparked a 12-3 run which Thomas capped with a dunk 4:52 from the end, stretching Hapoel's lead to 84-74.
The first double-digit lead of the night however proved short-lived as Thad McFadden drilled four three-pointers in quick succesion and propelled Burgos back in front, 88-84 with 2:09 left on the clock.
Braimoh though showed nerves of steel to reply by knocking down a corner three, J’Covan Brown put Hapoel ahead with a layup and Braimoh hit another trey, 20 seconds from time, to make it 92-88 for the hosts.
Thomas finished with a season-high 27 points and added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks while Braimoh had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists. McFadden finished with 20 points and 7 assists for Burgos, who were playing without the sidelined through a virus infection Vitor Benite.
Hapoel have now improved to 10-3 and will finish first in the group regardless of results on Gameday 14. Burgos will advance if they defeat Vechta, or if they lose by less than six points, or if they lose by seven or more points and Bandirma lose their game against Pau-Orthez.
Lietkabelis 82-69 SIG Strasbourg - Group A
Lietkabelis will live to fight another day in the battle for a playoff spot from Group A after using a dominant fourth-quarter run to clinch an 82-69 win over Strasbourg at home.
The hosts were trailing the French side 47-40 with 7:36 left in the third frame when Martynas Sajus scored with a layup to spark a swift 18-8 burst by the Lithuanian team.
A Zeljko Sakic jumper 4:07 from the third buzzer capped the perfect three-minute stretch and made it 58-50 for the hosts.
Strasbourg, playing their first game since parting ways with long-serving coach Vincent Collet, reduced the gap to just one point, 60-59, at the start of the final stanza.
The Lietkabelis response however eliminated any possibility of a tight finale, as a Vytenis Lipkevicius triple capped a huge 17-0 run and stretched the hosts' lead to 77-59 with less than four minutes remaining to the final buzzer.
Tomas Dimsa led the way for Lietkabelis with 19 points and 5 assists Paulius Valinskas finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Gabe York had a team-high 14 points for Strasbourg in defeat.
Turk Telekom 100-87 Polski Cukier Torun - Group A
Turk Telekom delivered their highest-scoring display of the season in a 100-87 victory over Torun that strengthens the Ankara team's bid to clinch the top spot in Group A.
The hosts shot an excellent 60 percent from the floor, including 11 of 22 from behind the three-point arc, as all 12 Turk Telekom players that took to the floor wrote their name on the scoresheet.
Turk Telekom raced to a double-digit lead halfway through the first frame and poured in 57 points by halftime to ensure they would go into the locker rooms at the break with an unassailable 26-point cushion.
Muhammed Baygül paced the winners with 18 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, while Moustapha Fall contributed 16 points and 5 boards. Torun's Chris Wright finished with a game-high 19 points in defeat.
The Turkish side have improved to 10-3 and will finish first in the group if they match Dinamo Sassari's result on the final gameday. Torun on the other hand have dropped to 2-11 and will finish in eighth place.
Nizhny Novgorod 89-64 Gaziantep - Group C
Nizhny built a double-digit gap in the opening quarter and kept Gaziantep at arm's length the rest of the way to cruise to an 89-64 win which marks the Russian team's largest margin of victory this season.
An Artem Komolov layup just before the first buzzer gave the hosts their first double-digit lead, 27-16 and Nizhny never allowed the visitors to come any closer again.
The Russian side out-rebounded Gaziantep 40 to 22 and shot 55 percent from the floor, compared to the Turkish side's field goal percentage of 33 percent.
Komolov paced the winners with 19 points off the bench while recent addition Terell Parks chipped in with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Stevan Jelovac finished with 18 points and 7 boards for Gaziantep in a losing effort.
Nizhny have now improved to 8-5 and will finish third in Group C if they match Peristeri's result on Gameday 14. Gaziantep meanwhile have dropped to 3-10.
Casademont Zaragoza 86-76 PAOK - Group D
Zaragoza managed to shake off a tenacious PAOK in the final frame and extend their winning streak to five games with an 86-76 victory that boosts the Spanish team's chances of finishing first in Group D.
The hosts led by double-digit margins in the first and again in the third quarter, but the Greek side reduced the deficit to eight points, 72-64, at the start of the fourth stanza.
D.J. Seeley sunk a triple 7:29 from the final buzzer to restore the hosst' double-digit cushion and a Jonathan Barreiro trey with 4:19 remaining to play stretched Zaragoza's lead to 82-66.
While PAOK committed only four turnovers more than Zaragoza, the hosts scored 23 points off turnovers, compared to the Thessaloniki team's 12. The Spanish side also found easy scores in transition and had 13 fast-break points, compared to PAOK's three.
Nicolas Brussino led the way for the hosts with 18 points and 5 rebounds while Seeley finished with 17 points, 3 boards and 3 assists. Bobby Brown and Zisis Sarikopoulos had 14 points apiece for PAOK.
Zaragoza will now clinch first place on Gameday 14 if they win at Happy Casa Brindisi, or if Telekom Baskets Bonn lose at PAOK.