Domestic roundup: Donar gear up for title defense; Avellino eliminated; Bashkimi pushing Sigal Prishtina
MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - Donar Groningen will be among the many FIBA Europe Cup sides challenging for the domestic title, with the business end of the Play-Offs approaching in leagues across Europe.
We also take a look at the domestic developments for FIBA Europe Cup teams in Italy, where the Play-Offs ended unexpectedly early for Sidigas Scandone Avellino and Kosovo, where Sigal Prishtina find themselves in a tough situation.
Donar begin title defense against ZZ Leiden
Having won the Dutch Basketball League the last two seasons, three-peat hopefuls Donar Groningen are set to begin their title defense against a new challenger after ZZ Leiden knocked out Landstede Zwolle on the other side of the bracket.
As the winners of the Regular Season, coach Erik Braal and his side had a bye-round in the Quarter-Finals before sweeping Rotterdam 4-0 in the Semi-Finals, beating their opponents with an average victory margin of 32 points in the series.
The other Semi-Final was somewhat surprisingly also a sweep, with the third-seeded Leiden coming out on top against their higher-ranked opponents from Zwolle in all four close-fought meetings.
This is the first time since the 2012-13 season that Leiden have reached the Final of the Dutch Basketball League, which also coincides with the last time they won the domestic title.
Trento say no to Avellino in Italy
A rematch of the FIBA Europe Cup title duel between Umana Reyer Venezia and Sidigas Scandone Avellino was not to be, with the Stefano Sacripanti-coached Scandone side eliminated by Aquila Basket Trento.
Having split the first two legs at home in Avellino, the Wolves found no luck on the road and suffered a 3-1 defeat in the Quarter-Finals series against their lower-ranked opponents after falling short 84-68 in the last contest.
Instead of meeting Avellino again, Reyer Venezia will now play against Trento in the Semi-Finals. The defending Serie A champions and recent FIBA Europe Cup winners from Venice eased past Vanoli Basket Cremona with a 3-0 sweep with three double-digit wins in a row.
No place to hide for Sigal Prishtina in Kosovo
After winning the Kosovo Basketball Super League four times in a row, Sigal Prishtina are in real danger of losing the title this season. Having lost the first two games of the Finals against Bashkimi, the defending champions extended the series with a 88-77 win on Saturday but are still in a tough situation.
Edmond Azemi did his best to keep the Prishtina side alive with a 30-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist and 3-steal effort in Game 3, while Filip Brundovic and Fisnik Rugova both added double-doubles. Brundovic had 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Rugova contributed with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.
For Bashkimi, Aaron Walton-Moss netted a team-high 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists but did not have the most efficient night, going just 9-of-20 from the field.
The series will return to Prizren for a potentially decisive Game 4 on Tuesday, with Baskhimi looking to wrap up their maiden Kosovo Basketball Super League title and Sigal Prishtina hoping to force another game for a chance to extend their dominance.