19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
12 Ariel Filloy | Photo: Sergio Mazza
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Who got the best grades on the second leg of the Quarter-Finals?

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - After seeing the number of active participants in the FIBA Europe Cup trophy hunt cut in half, we hand out grades to the four teams that conquered the Quarter-Final barrier as well as those that crashed out of the obstacle course, all based on their performances and expectations.



After seeing ESSM Le Portel run circles around them for the better part of the first three quarters, Bakken Bears came out of hibernation just in time to extend their FIBA Europe Cup season in overtime. Once again, the Danish champions proved the naysayers wrong by surviving the previously invincible Le Chaudron challenge. Well, sort of…the game might have gone down as an 86-80 defeat, but it was enough for the side from Aarhus to hold on to their 14-point lead from the first leg. Is there anyone still doubting that the Bears threat is real now?


How to have yourself a great week: a step-by-step guide, brought to you by Donar Groningen. Step one: win the Dutch Basketball Cup on Sunday. Step two: advance to the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Europe Cup beating your opponents by 27 points in the second leg of the Quarter-Finals at home in front of a packed gym of 4,350 spectators. That's exactly what coach Erik Braal's side did against Mornar Bar (101-74) and, by this definition, had themselves a great week.


Technically speaking, ESSM Le Portel finished their maiden European campaign without a single defeat on their home floor. The Eric Girard-coached side defeated Bakken Bears 86-80 to take their home record to 9-0 this season. However, the feeling at Le Chaudron just wasn't the same after Tuesday's game and there's an obvious explanation. Having nearly pulled off another remarkable double-digit comeback, Le Portel found the 14-point first-leg deficit too large to erase and saw their magical run in the FIBA Europe Cup come to an end.


Despite the lopsided 85-68 defeat in Avellino, it is hard to see what Juventus Utena could have done much differently against their Italian opponents given the tough hand they were dealt in terms of injuries. A terrible 31-8 second quarter put the game out of reach for the visitors from Lithuania already after the first half of play. But one could argue that drawing level with Sidigas Scandone Avellino in the first leg was an overachievement for coach Zydrunas Urbonas and his squad in the first place.


Mornar Bar head coach Mihailo Pavicevic did not seem too upset with his side being eliminated from the FIBA Europe Cup. Perhaps because he had time to come to terms with Donar Groningen running away with the game already in the second quarter and going on to win 101-74. "We just did not have the right energy after our ABA League Semi-Final against Crvena Zvezda on Sunday," he concluded in the press conference. That being said, an unspectacular exit should not overshadow a phenomenal European campaign for the Montenegrins.


Nizhny Novgorod needed a win. They got a win, just not one big enough to take them to the Semi-Finals. Paced by a FIBA Europe Cup season-high of 38 points by Stevan Jelovac, the Russians registered a 94-90 victory against Umana Reyer Venezia but couldn't flip a 10-point first-leg deficit into a favorable outcome at home. Had Jelovac made all nine three-pointers instead of seven, who knows how this would have panned out. Putting these unreasonable expectations aside, a well-fought effort by Nizhny Novgorod.

Considering they drew the first leg of the tie against Juventus Utena in Lithuania, Sidigas Scandone Avellino could not have dreamed that the second game would flow so smoothly. In what seemed like an absolutely stress-free contest against their injury-struck opponents, they ran away to a 27-point lead in the first half and never looked back. In the end, an 85-68 win for coach Stefano Sacripanti who used a full 12-man rotation, with Lorenzo D'Ercole going off for a personal season-high 17 points.


Umana Reyer Venezia had control of proceedings in Nizhny Novgorod for most of the game and their 10-point cushion from the first leg was never really under pressure, but losing is never fun. Even in a controlled setting, 94-90 on this occasion. A worrying sign for Venetian fans is the fact they also picked up an L against Egis Kormend in the second leg of the Round of 16. Back then, their superiority on aggregate was also never in doubt but the margin of error is getting smaller and smaller as we approach the business end of the Play-Offs.