FIBA Europe Cup: Numbers of Week 6
MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - After six weeks of action, the FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season finally came to a conclusion, with a healthy dose down-to-the-wire basketball in the final gameday on Wednesday.
With the field reduced to 24 teams, the competition will only get even more exciting, when action resumes after a two-week break.
However, before we start counting down the days before the Second Round, let's look at the last week of the Regular Season through our traditional statistical lens.
It was all about pride for the winless teams in the final round of fixtures and the trio of Brussels Basketball, Limburg United and Sigal Prishtina passed the test with flying colours, as they earned their first wins in the FIBA Europe Cup on their last attempts.
Brussels Basketball came away with an 80-75 win from Lisbon against SL Benfica, Limburg United topped Group B leaders BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque 84-77 on the road, while Sigal Prishtina bowed out with an 87-80 home victory against Enisey.
While group winners and runners-up progressed to the Second Round automatically, four more places were reserved for the 'lucky losers' or, in other words, the two best third-paced teams per conference.
After discarding the games against the fourth-placed teams, SL Benfica and Prievidza were both left with 2-2 records and progressed as the best teams in Conference 1 and Conference 2 respectively.
Meanwhile, Kormend and APOEL have good graces and their solid point differentials to thank after a nervous finale of the Regular Season. For reasons described below, the Hungarian side can be considered a 'very lucky loser'.
In high-stakes duel for a ticket to the Second Round, Donar Groningen survived a slow start in Kormend, an intense atmosphere and a 31-point outburst by Parrish Petty to claim the second place in Group B with a 79-72 victory in Hungary.
What a win! So thankful for the guys I have around me this year! Great team won in a tough environment! Hats off to Kormend's crowd!!— Chase Fieler (@fieler20) November 23, 2016
Quite interestingly, the 7-point margin suited the home side as well, with Kormend claiming one of the four places in the Second Round reserved for the best third-placed teams.
However, it was a close lucky escape for the Hungarian side, as they actually were only a single point from elimination. If their deficit had been 8 points at the final buzzer, Belfius Mons-Hainaut would have progressed due to a better point differential.
Kormend coach Teo Cizmic and the entire Kormend Arena breathed a collective sigh of relief, when the visitors decided to dribble out the clock and take the 24-second violation in their last possession, despite a couple more seconds on the clock.
All 10 players who stepped on the floor for Vytautas in the final Regular Season game against TLU/Kalev made a sizeable offensive contribution, scoring at least 5 points, as the Lithuanian side steamrolled their group rivals 96-55 for the third-biggest victory margin in the FIBA Europe Cup this season.
Elan Bearnais was one assist shy of the FIBA Europe Cup season-high, when they dished out 30 assists in a 92-74 victory against the visiting Redwell-Gunners Oberwart to keep their unbeaten record intact and claim the Group E crown.
Starting playmaker D.J. Cooper accounted for 10 dimes, while back-up Ronald Howard chipped in with 6 assists. Alongside Nanterre 92, the Pau-Lacq-Orthez side are the only two undefeated teams in the competition.
The Larnaca side shot itself out of the game after going 4-of-33 from three-point range, but managed to lose only 71-66 despite a horrific 12.1% clip from beyond the arc.
While the 33 three-point field goal attempts approached a season record of 37 set by Enisey earlier in the competition, the four field goals made was just off the season-low of merely three triples co-owned by Redwell-Gunners Oberwart, Siauliai and TLU/Kalev.
It has to be said though, that all three of these teams attempted far fewer shots than AEK.
The team's leading scorer Torey Thomas was responsible for one of the made three-pointers, but finished the game with only 3 points on 1-of-7 from the field and 8 rebounds.
However, throughout the season, Thomas proved to be the only capable three-point shooter on the team, making 16-of-33 in the six games, while the rest of the team combined for 23-of-112, good enough for only 20.5%.
Although Siauliai were eliminated from the FIBA Europe Cup, 19-year-old Lithuanian power forward Martynas Echodas had a strong last word by becoming the Top Performer of Week 6
Having gone 10-of-16 from the field and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe, the Siauliai big man collected a season-high 30 points and 14 rebounds on the way to a league-best efficiency index of 37 this week.
Echodas, who has been of the few lone bright spots for the struggling Siauliai this season, had a statistical edge over other Top Performers nominees Moustapha Fall, Ben Simons, Lance Jeter and Parrish Petty.