Things are really beginning to heat up in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds as each team fights for a place in next season’s Euroleague. Tuesday saw Lithuanian side Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius defeat a resilient VEF Riga side 80-71 in Siemens Arena. They will be hosting German side EWE Baskets Oldenburg, who edged Cimberio Varese 74-79 in a tight match.

Both sides will be eager to return to the Euroleague. Rytas will want to make up for last year’s finish when it missed out on the top 16 while Oldenburg last taste of the top league was back during the 09-10 season.

Both teams will hope to continue on the momentum from their first game. Rytas will take encouragement from a strong team performance, despite needing a late triple from Omar Cook to secure the win. Cook accumulated 7 points and 7 assists throughout the match but it was Juan Palacios who was the most prolific, collecting 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, while Martynas Gecevicius bagged 11 points and 8 rebounds.

EWE Baskets on the other hand had a tight finish as the two sides tied 70-70 with two minutes to go. Julis Jenkins netted 18 points off the bench while Chris Kramer’s contribution was critical, proving 15 points 5 rebouns and 5 assists throughout the game.

Wednesday night’s games were just as eventful as Banvit Bandirma saw off CEZ Basketball Nymburk 78 – 87. Keith Simmons spearheaded the Banvit attack as he scored 3 three pointers while E.J. Rowland provided 13 assists to help secure the win.

But the greatest shock came courtesy of Telenet BC, who defeated Khimki Moscow Region 79 – 90. Having been tied at 64 – 64 with a little over seven minutes left, Telenet secured the win thanks to Pierre-Antoine Gillet who scored 5 three-pointers, finishing with 16 points, while Ryan Thompson scored 19 points.

Having never been in the Euroleague before, Banvit will hope that there won’t be another shock when the two sides meet. Telenet BC, however, will be eyeing a return to Euroleague after a ten-year absence.

The sides who are unsuccessful in Thursday’s encounter will be entered in the draw for EuroCup in the last line. The draw will take place on Friday.

- Quinton O’Reilly

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