Qualification Round 2: Gameday 2 Monday Round Up
MIES (Switzerland) - Belgian side Telenet Giants Antwerp and Lithuania's Lietkabelis secured on Monday, with the conclusion of Qualification Round 2, the last two remaining spots in the 2019-20 Basketball Champions League.
Antwerp knocked out Swedish outfit Södertälje Kings and Lietkabelis eliminated Cypriot side Keravnos. The Lithuanian team will compete in Group A of the Regular Season while the Belgian side will be placed in Group B. Both Södertälje and Keravnos on the other hand now transfer to the FIBA Europe Cup.
The first six tickets to this year's Basketball Champions League that were on offer through qualification found their rightful owners on Sunday, when Nizhny Novgorod, Telekom Baskets Bonn, Falco Szombathely, Mornar Bar, Polski Cukier Torun and San Pablo Burgos prevailed in their respective ties.
Let's have a closer look at Monday night action.
Lietkabelis 77-82 Keravnos (Lietkabelis win 148-137 on aggregate)
🎉 @BCLietkabelis advance to #BasketballCL Regular Season despite their 5-point loss at home vs Keravnos, as the 🇱🇹 squad won by 16 in the first leg!— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) September 30, 2019
📊 https://t.co/5xJEsMGG4u pic.twitter.com/v2oOXh39Qf
The Panevezys side had won the first leg in Cyprus 71-55 but on Monday they found themselves having to fight tooth and nail to qualify, as they trailed Keravnos by as many as 16 points.
The two teams traded blows up until the middle of the third frame, when with the scores tied at 50-all, Jake O'Brien sunk two free-throws to instigate a 20-4 burst for the visitors.
Lietkabelis stopped the drought but Keravnos maintained the gap around double digits and the game looked poised for a nail-biting ending as it was approaching its final two minutes.
The Cypriot visitors, leading 82-71, passed the ball to Mohamed Abukar in the low post and everyone assumed he would increase the gap to 13 points, but Vytenis Lipkevicius appeared out of nowhere and wrestled the ball out of the Keravnos big man's hands.
The huge defensive play by Lipkevicius enabled Ken Brown to drill a triple in secondary transition that reduced the deficit to 8 points and dealt a huge blow on the morale of Keravnos, who wasted all of their remaining possessions.
Brown finished with a game-high 32 points on an amazing 8 of 11 three-point shooting and added 4 assists, while Margiris Normantas was the other Lietkabelis player to score in double digits and collected 11 points, 4 assists and 3 boards. Abukar paced Keravnos with 19 points and 6 rebounds while Josh Hagins posted a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards.
Telenet Giants Antwerp 68-73 Södertälje Kings (Giants win 150-133 on aggregate)
Södertälje Kings showcased their fighting spirit in Antwerp on Monday and claimed a 73-68 victory over the Giants which however fell well short of overturning the Belgian side's 22-point cushion from the first leg, in Sweden.
The Swedish visitors started pulling away late in the opening quarter and a Martin Pahlmblad jumper with 9 minutes remaining in the second stanza handed the Kings their biggest lead of the night, 28-15.
The hosts however regained their composure almost immediately to contain Södertälje's burst and came back after the half-time break determined to make an emphatic statement. Victor Sanders sunk a three-pointer with 4:53 remaining in the third frame that capped off a 15-3 run for the hosts and pushed Antwerp ahead, 46-42.
It was the Giants' biggest lead of the night and in fact they never led again until the final buzzer, but it was more than enough to leave the visitors with a 26-point mountain to climb in what was now an impossibly limited time window.
Pahlmblad was in inspiration form for the Kings, pouring in a game-high 29 points on 7 of 12 shooting from behind the three-point arc and adding 6 rebounds. For Antwerp, young Belgian international Vincent Kesteloot finished with 18 points and 4 boards.
The Flemish club have consequently pulled off the same feat for the second season in a row, as in 2018-19 they also earned a place in the Basketball Champions League through the qualification stages.
The Giants liked the competition so much that they then advanced to the play-offs and ultimately made it all the way to the Final Four, which they hosted in Antwerp, and finished in third place.