History making continues for Prishtina; Donar and Leiden do it for Netherlands
MUNICH (Germany) - Z Mobile Prishtina reached another milestone in the FIBA Europe Cup, becoming one of the last three teams to complete the Round of 16 puzzle on the last day of the Second Round, alongside two Dutch clubs – Donar Groningen and ZZ Leiden.
With all direct qualification spots already filled, the trio punched in their tickets by finishing third in their respective groups to sneak into the Play-Offs via the 'lucky loser' route, joining Alba Fehervar who had secured their berth earlier.
Having progressed to the Second Round for the first time ever this season, the Damir Mulaomerovic-coached Prishtina extended their history-making with an 82-78 win over Pinar Karsiyaka to nip Szolnoki Olaj in the Group I table with a 2-4 record.
Big man Khalid Boukichou took advantage of the Turkish side's frontcourt absences by posting a team-high 16 points and dishing out 5 assists, while Dardan Berisha and Kyan Anderson chipped in with 15 points apiece.
Sek Herny and Akif Egemen Guven collected 21 points each for the visitors from Izmir, with the latter also adding 11 rebounds to complete his double-double.
The Kosovar side pounced on the opportunity to supplant Szolnoki Olaj in the table after the Hungarian title-holders picked up a 92-83 defeat against the undefeated group leaders s.Oliver Wurzburg, paced by 21 points from teenager Joshua Obiesie.
BESTES TEAM DER ZWISCHENRUNDE | Wir gewinnen auch bei @SzolnokiOlaj mit 92:83 (56:48), bleiben ungeschlagen und sind gespannt auf die morgige Auslosung des Achtelfinales.— #PureEmotion (@soliver_wue) February 6, 2019
Spielbericht 📄 https://t.co/g095Ig3J5F
Foto 📸 @FIBA #SZOSOW | #FIBAEuropeCup | #PureEmotion pic.twitter.com/FrDXajuRqd
Donar Groningen went through a roller-coaster in Italy to secure their spot in the Round of 16, registering an 80-77 overtime upset against Pallacanestro Varese in Group K behind the leadership of Lance 'General' Jeter who went 6-of-10 from three-point range to finish with a game-high 24 points and 8 rebounds.
It later turned out that the Dutch side would have progressed regardless, as Petrolina AEK couldn't get a win against the other Italian powerhouse Dinamo Sassari, coming up short 93-81 despite holding a lead at one point in the second half.
ZZ Leiden came closest to missing the Play-Off train, returning from Finland with a 92-80 loss against Kataja Basket, who were in a position to overtake their Group L rivals but squandered it away and finished their international campaign instead.
Needing to win by 16 points to swing the head-to-head in their favor and up by exactly that margin, the Finnish club gave away possession on an inbound play inside the final minute and Maurice Watson made them pay with an easy conversion.
The leading FIBA Europe Cup scorer Darius Thompson put up big numbers for Leiden with 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting, while Watson double-doubled with 19 points and 10 assists.
In the other Group L game, Avtodor Saratov claimed the group crown over Bakkan Bears in a 125-124 overtime thriller in Aarhus, as 18-year-old Nikita Mikhailovski registered a phenomenal 25-point performance.