19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
Mitchell Watt | Photo: Alessandro Scarpa
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Who got the best grades on the first leg of the Round of 16?

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - With the first-leg action of the Round of 16 in the books, we hand out grades to every FIBA Europe Cup team, based on their performances against expectations before the Play-Offs.



Things seemed downright gloomy for Alba Fehervar in Lithuania after a 29-6 opening quarter, but Brasnislav Dzunic's side showed character and clawed their way back into the game. Given the circumstances, an 87-74 final score is certainly not the worst thing in the world. Heading back to Szekesfehervar with a 13-point deficit is far from ideal but it gives the Hungarians a fighting chance.


A 20-point win on the road in Latvia? Who would have thought! Bakken Bears ticked all the boxes and even got some extra style points for throwing down 12 dunks. The 93-73 scoreline might appear slightly inflated due to the fourth-quarter, but that's not to take anything away from DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Jeffrey Crockett and the rest of the crew. They were simply spectacular.


Having received the toughest draw from the incoming Basketball Champions League clubs, Dinamo Sassari passed their test with flying colors, despite handing in the assignment just before the deadline. The Sardinians lulled ESSM Le Portel to sleep in the first three quarters before calling hammer time in the fourth and outscoring the visitors 26-8 in the final frame to go up +17 in the tie.


Donar Groningen convincingly won the battle of inseparables, registering their third win against U-BT Cluj-Napoca this season after facing off with the Romanian champions in the Second Round as well. Despite having a 38-point win against Bosna under their belt, the 103-76 first-leg triumph over Cluj might have been Donar's most thorough performance of the season. The 4,350 people at MartiniPlaza get an A+ from us, too.

Taking on the odds-on favorites to lift the FIBA Europe Cup in the Round of 16 was never going to be an easy task, but Egis Kormend didn't exactly cover themselves in glory in the 83-51 blowout in Italy. Few expected the Hungarians to come out of Venice with a win, but a 32-point defeat and a 31.6 percent accuracy from the field is not a good look for anyone.


ESSM Le Portel saw their 11-game winning streak snapped in the FIBA Europe Cup after letting a 16-point lead slip against Dinamo Sassari, suffering a hefty 72-55 defeat in Sardinia. It's hard to put a positive spin on coming back to France down by 17 points in the tie, especially considering how well Le Portel started the game.


A satisfactory 13-point win in the end, but Juventus took one hell of a scenic route to get there. On the one hand, it was an opportunity missed since the Kenny Gaines-powered Utena led by 29 after a stellar start. On the other, they did get a double-digit cushion before the second leg despite seeing that said 29-point lead reduced to a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.


The 77-62 scoreline might not look too pretty on paper and it may be tough to overturn a 15-point margin against Nizhny Novgorod, but there were some genuinely solid moments for Keravnos, who lived up to their reputation as a team that doesn't give up. They were behind by single figures with just a couple of minutes left in the game, but allowed the game, and probably the tie, to get out of hand.


Having gone toe to toe with Oostende in the first half, Mornar Bar started to lag behind after intermission, the gap between the teams growing to 84-71 by the final buzzer. There's certainly space for improvement for the Montenegrin side, who went just 8-of-32 from three-point range and could have easily contended for a win, had they shot their regular percentage.


One of only two teams to get road wins this week, Nizhny Novgorod inscribed a 77-62 victory against Keravnos after winning all four quarters of play in Nicosia. It was a rather stress-free game for coach Zoran Lukic's side, but nothing beyond what was expected from the favorites of the tie.


Oostende managed to pull away from Mornar Bar in the second half en route to an 84-71 victory that puts them in a favorable position before the return leg but by no means guarantees them peace of mind. Oh, among the things you have to see…Chase Fieler baptized Boris Bakic with a huge slam. Wow!


Sidigas Scandone Avellino were tipped as one of the favorites to go all the way in the FIBA Europe Cup before the start of the Play-Offs, but did not look the part against Tsmoki-Minsk. Only a 24-point, 15-rebound double-double by Kyrylo Fesenko and a late 11-2 run in the last two minutes of the game salvaged the situation, tying the tie at 70-all at the buzzer. Things could have been much worse.


After playing major roles in Belarus, upsetting Slovenia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers, Tsmoki-Minsk players were close to scoring another big scalp with their club. What seemed like a sure-to-happen road victory against Avellino, escaped Minsk down the stretch. However, the 70-70 scoreline on the road in Italy is definitely a positive outcome for coach Alisakandr Krutsikau and his team.

The third time did not prove to be the charm for U-BT Cluj-Napoca. A 27-point blowout defeat was the last thing the Romanian champions expected in Groningen, especially with a close to full-strength roster. They did take their FIBA Europe Cup campaign one step further than last year by qualifying for the Round of 16, but it would appear that's where the road ends for Cluj.


Umana Reyer Venezia or 'Oh, mama!' Reyer Venezia? The Italians put together the most impressive performance of the Round of 16 by thrashing Egis Kormend 83-51. The 32-point home win more or less guarantees Venezia a place in the Quarter-Finals where they will face the winner of Nizhny Novgorod and Keravnos.


When you have the head coach of the team apologizing for the game, you know it's not good. And that's what Ventspils playcaller Roberts Stelmahers had to resort to after the 93-73 home loss to Bakken Bears: "I would like to apologize to the spectators for the game they had to witness today. I'm ashamed of my work as a coach and the game shown by the team."