Zahariev steals the show in FIBA Europe Cup exit to capture Top Performer honors
MUNICH (Germany) - It later turned out there was nothing Hristo Zahariev could have done to save Lukoil Levski from a FIBA Europe Cup exit, but he did his best to keep the Bulgarian side's hopes alive until the very last moment, earning the Top Performer honors.
The 28-year-old forward impressed on both ends of the floor in a 105-88 victory against domestic rivals Balkan Botevgrad to make his second consecutive Team of the Week appearance.
Having gone 10-of-16 from the field, Zahariev finished with a game-high 26 points and 6 assists, but his most significant contribution may have come in the shape of 9 steals, which tied the FIBA Europe Cup all-time best; he finished the week with the league-best efficiency mark of 35.
After beginning the Second Round with four defeats in a row, Levski came close to qualifying to the Round of 16 as a lucky loser, but finished just below the cut-off line for the four extra qualification spots.
One team that did sneak into the Play-Offs through the back door was Donar Groningen, who finished third in Group K with a 2-4 record after defeating Pallacanestro Varese 80-77 on the road in Italy.
The Dutch team's floor general Lance Jeter has continued to prove himself as an excellent mid-season acquisition, going 6-of-10 from three-point range for 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in the overtime win.
Staying in Group K, Achille Polonara and Dinamo Sassari secured the top spot in the table by defeating Petrolina AEK 93-81 in Sardinia to push their record to 5-1, with the Italian big man racking up 24 points, 9 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Daequan Cook of Ironi Ness Ziona delivered most of the punches, as the Israeli side earned the Group J crown in similar fashion on Tuesday. The sharpshooting guard connected on 9-of-12 field goal attempts, including a sterling 6-of-8 from three-point territory, for a game-high 25 points to give Ness Ziona a 96-80 win against Alba Fehervar in Hungary.
Filling the center spot on the Team of the Week, Kataja Basket five man Adrian Diaz posted a 17-point and 10-rebound double-double with 3 blocks in a 92-80 win over ZZ Leiden that proved four points short of putting the Finnish side through to the Round of 16.