19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
44 Arvin Slagter | Photo: Manases Sandor
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Who got the best grades on the second leg of the Round of 16?

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - The FIBA Europe Cup post-season started out with a bang and, with the Round of 16 in the books, we are here to review all the drama and hand out grades to each of the teams involved for how well they fared in second-leg action.



Alba Fehervar put their best foot forward and won the second leg against Juventus Utena, but it wasn't enough to overcome a double-digit deficit from the first game. By reaching the Round of 16, the Branislav Dzunic-coached Hungarians got one step further than they did last year and are leaving the competition with their heads held high.


"The Bakken Bears threat is real," said the team's head coach Steffen Wich after booking a ticket to the Quarter-Finals. Few could have imagined the Danish champions going on such a run before the season, but they are now truly a force to be reckoned with in the FIBA Europe Cup. They did not show their best basketball in the 81-75 loss to Ventspils in the second leg, but their first-leg cushion was more than enough.


A road trip to Le Portel was never going to be easy, but just about every single thing that could have gone wrong, did go wrong for Dinamo Sassari in France. It is not at all surprising that the Sardinians picked up a defeat in the madness of Le Chaudron, but letting a 17-point advantage slip must be driving coach Romeo Sacchetti mad. This might go down in the history of the competition as one of the most spectacular meltdowns ever.


Here's one for you: 40 percent of Donar Groningen victories in the FIBA Europe Cup have come against U-BT Cluj-Napoca this season. Despite playing without Evan Bruinsma and trailing by double digits at one point, the Dutch champions took care of business after intermission in the second leg, inscribing a 76-69 victory and sweeping the season series 4-0 with a combined point differential of +58 in these matchups.

Treating your fans to a clutch win over the main title contenders in the last seconds must rank as one of the best ways to end your European campaign. And that's exactly what Egis Kormend did, with Csaba Ferencz knocking down a decisive go-ahead triple with three ticks on the clock left to give the Hungarians an 88-86 victory. Yes, they still lost the Round of 16 tie by 30 points on aggregate, but let's put that thought aside right now.


Still undefeated on their home floor, ESSM Le Portel did not let a 17-point road defeat against Dinamo Sassari derail their excellent FIBA Europe Cup season with a miraculous escape at Le Chaudron. An unlikely sequence of events at the end of regulation allowed the French side to force overtime and later swing the balance in their favor with a 100-81 win. Even team captain Benoit Mangin admitted luck was a factor, but let's just take a second to admire the glorious performance ESSM Le Portel put together.


A short-handed Juventus Utena side traveled to Hungary with just eight healthy players and brought the injured Karolis Guscikas and Laurynas Samenas along just to make up the numbers. With that in mind, a 78-76 defeat against Alba Fehervar is definitely not the worst thing in the world, especially as they still won the tie by double digits on aggregate.


Keravnos needed to punch well above their weight to stand a chance against Nizhny Novgorod in the Round of 16. After losing the first leg in Nicosia by 15 points, they picked up another double-digit defeat in Russia (71-61), but the Cypriot champions can still feel proud of what they managed to accomplish in the FIBA Europe Cup this season.


Nemanja Vranjes and Derek Needham might have their best games in the FIBA Europe Cup, combining for 13 three-pointers in a 90-63 thrashing of Oostende back home in Montenegro. Mornar Bar came into the second leg trailing by 13 points, but flipped the tie on its head with an amazing performance at the Topolica Sports Hall. After the first game in Belgium, Mihailo Pavicevic promised they would advance to the Quarter-Finals. And that's exactly what they did, turning -13 into +14 on aggregate, just like that.


A solid defensive-minded performance was enough for Nizhny Novgorod to get the job done against Keravnos in the Round of 16, with the Russian side inscribing a 71-61 victory at home to win the tie by 25 points on the whole. After a somewhat weaker opponent to start the Play-Offs, the Russian will need to bring their A-game in the Quarter-Finals with Umana Reyer Venezia in their way.


The road trip to Bar proved to be a nightmare of an experience for Oostende, who had got off to a promising start in the Round of 16 with an 84-71 victory in the first leg in Belgium. Having seen their lead erased already in the opening quarter of the return fixture, the Belgian champions simply had nothing to counter the red-hot shooting by the home team and were swiftly eliminated.


Kyrylo Fesenko was a beast in the first leg, while Ariel Filloy finished scoreless. The roles flipped in the second leg in Minsk, but Sidigas Scandone Avellino still came out on top against Tsmoki-Minsk, breaking the deadlock with an 81-72 road victory. It wasn't the most convincing way to move into the Quarter-Finals, but the Italians have plenty of unused reserves in their back pocket going forward.


Despite the FIBA Europe Cup exit, it's hard to criticize Tsmoki-Minsk for their performance in the Round of 16. After drawing the first game in Avellino, they were within striking distance for most of the second leg as well, but just ran out of steam down the stretch. Had they not wasted their fourth-quarter lead in the first leg, we might be talking about a big upset. Then again, no place for would'ves, could'ves and should'ves in the Play-Offs.

Right until the Round of 16, it had been an overwhelmingly positive season in the FIBA Europe Cup for U-BT Cluj-Napoca. Despite jumping out to a double-digit lead early, the Romanians put down their arms in the second half of the game and inscribed their fourth defeat of the season against Donar Groningen, 76-69. It is probably fair to say that most people expected Cluj-Napoca to be more competitive, overall.


Having won the first leg by 32 points last week, Umana Reyer Venezia took their foot off the gas pedal and were punished with an 88-86 defeat in Hungary by Egis Kormend in the reverse fixture. No harm was done here and the result might even serve as a note of caution for the Italians, who were famously picked as the number one favorites to win the FIBA Europe Cup by the majority of their opponents.


A much better performance overall by Ventspils on the road in Aarhus, but it was nowhere near to overturn the 20-point deficit from the home game. The Latvian team led by 10 points on several occasions, but eventually settled for an 81-75 victory. This is the end of the road for Ventspils in the FIBA Europe Cup, who were one of three Basketball Champions League teams eliminated in the Round of 16.