Basketball

Strasbourg fall short in Aris comeback attempt

SIG Strasbourg's bid to turn around a 19-point first-leg deficit fell agonisingly short as they missed out on a place in the Basketball Champions League last 16 to Aris.

Trailing 71-52 after the opening meeting in Greece, the French outfit put in a spirited display to win 81-70 at home, losing by eight overall after heading into the fourth quarter all square on aggregate.

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Erik Murphy sent the fans into raptures when he put Strasbourg in front for the first time with a third-period three-pointer, and the hosts looked capable of snatching victory for long spells.

However, it was Strasbourg's inadequacy from free throws that proved their downfall, posting a 47 per cent success rate from the line compared to 88 per cent for their visitors.

Indeed, the hosts' shortcomings were magnified in the final minute, when Vlado Jankovic coolly extended Aris' advantage with a pair of free throws just seconds before Mouhammadou Jaiteh missed with two wayward efforts symptomatic of Strasbourg's wastefulness.

Aris will now play ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, while fellow Greek outfit PAOK face Iberostar Tenerife following a play-offs qualifier decided by just a two-point margin.

PAOK were beaten 76-74 at home by Partizan, but fought back in Belgrade to win 82-78, holding off a late rally from their hosts, who won the fourth quarter 28-18.

A flurry of late points clinched victory for Umana Reyer Venezia over Ventspils, progressing with a two-point advantage following a 70-61 home win.

In the remaining play-offs qualifier, MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg eased into the last 16 with a 19-point margin, beating Maccabi Rand Media 84-82.

Reyer face Sidigas Avellino in the next round, while Neptunas Klaipeda await Ludwigsburg.

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