20 September, 2018
01 May, 2019
Mate Varga (ALBA), 1 Gary Browne (IRNZI), Photo: László Kiss
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Ironi Ness Ziona defeat Alba Fehervar to secure Group J title; Levski top up win tally in Bulgarian derby

MUNICH (Germany) - Ironi Ness Ziona will enter the Play-Offs as the top-ranked team from Group J after finishing the Second Round with a 96-80 victory over Alba Fehervar on Tuesday evening, while Lukoil Levski topped up their win tally in the all-Bulgarian matchup against Balkan Botevgrad.

The Daequan Cook-paced Israeli club came from behind in Hungary to top the standings with a 4-2 record, erasing a double-digit second-half deficit to sail away with the game in the fourth quarter on the back of a 24-8 run.

Having trailed by as many as 11 points in the third stanza, Ness Ziona got hot down the stretch to swing the contest in their favor, with Cook amassing a game-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field, including 6-of-8 from three-point range.

Chris Dowe also played a big role in the win with 17 points, Tal Dunne collected 14 points and 5 rebounds, while Gary Browne double-doubled with 11 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds.

Veteran guard Carlos Cabezas was the leading scorer for Alba Fehervar with 19 points, and Allerik Freeman had 17 points, as the Hungarians fell to third place in the standings but progressed to the Round of 16 as one of the 'lucky losers' with a 3-3 mark.

The second-placed Balkan Botevgrad couldn't finish the Second Round on a high note, picking up a 105-88 defeat against their local rivals Lukoil Levski, who improved to a 2-4 record after their second consecutive win.

Having had a stellar outing against Alba Fehervar last week, Levski forward Hristo Zahariev followed it up by tying the FIBA Europe Cup all-time record with 9 steals while scoring 26 points and dishing out 6 assists.

Patrick Rembert and Hristo Zahariev led the way for Lukoil Levski

Double-digit contributions from Patrick Rembert, Bozhidar Avramov and both Deyan and Kaloyan Ivanov were enough for the Bulgarian champions to get revenge for their defeat in Botevgrad earlier in the Second Round.

Alex Gavrilovic had a team-high 20 points and 9 rebounds for Balkan, with Mikael Hopkins also flirting with a double-double at 19 points and 9 rebounds.

Despite finishing fourth, Levski do hold theoretical chances of progressing to the Play-Offs via the extra qualification spots available for the 'lucky losers', but the outcome is out of their hands.