ratiopharm Ulm and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade both knew that Tuesday night would be their farewell to the 7DAYS EuroCup for the current season and both sides made sure to go out in style with strong home victories over teams headed to the quarterfinals. Ulm topped previously undefeated LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, while Zvezda bested 2017 champion Unicaja.
Javonte Green and Ismet Akpinar both scored 17 points to pace four Ulm scorers in double figures in an 86-68 win over ASVEL.
"I'm really happy with the way that we played this game. We took it very seriously, similarly to how we did in Frankfurt last week," said Ulm coach Thorsten Leibenath, referring to the team's 68-83 win at Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt in Round 5. "In both games we knew we didn't have a chance to qualify for the final eight, but it didn't matter. What mattered to us was we enjoyed playing a game in front of our fans and I think we gave them a good game. Our performance was really at a high level although I have to say that ASVEL did not play at a full force. But winning feels good, and winning this game felt good today also."
Ulm ended the Top 16 with a 3-3 record, not to mention the praise of ASVEL coach Zvezdan Mitrovic, who after watching his team lose for the first time in the Top 16 said: "I think they finished a good EuroCup season in my opinion. They really showed a good way."
Zvezda produced its best offensive effort of the season in routing Unicaja 105-89. After losing its last two games by a single point and thus losing its chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since its 2014 semifinals appearance, Zvezda did not lie down for its final game. Instead, Coach Tomic's men came out strong and played strong for 40 minutes. Joe Ragland paced six Zvezda scorers in double figures with 17 points, 7 assists and 4 steals as the team bowed out of the competition with a 2-4 record in the Top 16, third place in Group G and an 8-8 record for the season.
This season was Ulm's fourth in a row in the EuroCup and it can take its strong finish as something to build on the rest of the season in Germany as it looks to clinch a berth in the competition next season. Likewise, Zvezda will dream of returning to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, where it had competed in each of the previous five seasons and reached the playoffs in 2016.