Regular Season, Round 18
Round 18 of the Regular Season provides a series of must-win match-ups in the race for the playoffs, including a legendary coach facing his former team and a big battle between the two teams currently placed third and fourth in the standings.
Missing two of its top three scorers, CSKA Moscow put on a command performance anyway to take an 85-64 home win over Brose Bamberg on Thursday. CSKA remains atop the standings with a 14-4 record, while Bamberg lost its second in a row and sits 7-11. CSKA played without both Milos Teodosic and Corey Higgins, but it didn't seem to matter. The champs dominated defensively, while Nando De Colo hit 8 of 9 two-point shots on his way to 26 points to lead the winners. Daniel Theis led Bamberg with 16 points.
Fenerbahce Istanbul defeated Panathinaikos Athens 84-63 at home. Both teams now have a 11-7 records. It was a special game for Fenerbahce head coach Zeljko Obradovic, who reached 100 EuroLeague games with the Turkish powerhouse against the team he led for 13 years, Panathinaikos, and won five EuroLeague titles with. Luigi Datome led the winners with 16 points and Ahmet Duverioglu provided a spark with a career-high 13 points off the bench. Mike James led Panathinaikos with 25 points on 7-of-8 two-point shooting.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade scored the game’s final 9 points to snag a 67-71 victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv at Menorah Mivtachim Arena. The Serbian champs extended their winning streak to five straight games to improve to 10-8 and a share of sixth place, while Maccabi lost for the eighth time in nine games to fall to 6-12. The hosts led 67-62 after Colton Iverson scored with four minutes remaining, but missed their last 6 shots and committed a pair of turnovers, while Stefan Jovic shined with 5 points and a pair of assists in Zvezda’s game-deciding run. Jovic finished with 14 points and 7 assists to pace the winners. Andrew Goudelock scored 19 to lead Maccabi.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan ended the longest losing streak in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this season when it came from behind in the closing minutes to win 92-87 over visiting Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul on Thursday. Milan lost all of a 16-point second-quarter lead and trailed 73-76 with five minutes left after a 0-9 run by Galatasaray. But Krunoslav Simon and Ricky Hickman combined for 11 of their team's 19 points the rest of the way to end Milan's 10-game losing streak. Both teams are tied at 5-13 in the standings, but Milan moved out of last place and ahead of Galatasaray based on the 5-point difference, two more than when it lost their first meeting in Istanbul. Simon paced the inners with 19 points and 5 assists. Galatasaray got 17 points each from Sinan Guler and Bruno Fitipaldo.
In a thriller, FC Barcelona Lassa bounced back from recent losses by downing Anadolu Efes Istanbul 89-78 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona and Efes now have the same record in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season - eight wins and 10 losses, each. Barcelona, however, grabbed the tie-break advantage if both teams finish the regular season with the same record, as it registered a 72-68 road loss in Istanbul earlier this season. Petteri Koponen led the winners with 20 points and Vitor Faverani added 18 in his first game with Barcelona. Brandon Paul paced Efes with 25 points.
On Friday, Unics Kazan (7-10) will look for its fifth win in six games with a trip to Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (9-8). The Turkish team has conceded at least 81 points in each of its last four games, partly explaining why it has the league's third-worst overall performance index rating (82.76 per game). Unics's preference for the paint is illustrated by the Russian team scoring fewer three-pointers than any other team (7.1 per game), but netting the fourth-highest number of two-pointers (21.5 per game).
In the Game of the Week, second-placed Real Madrid (12-5) travels to face a Zalgiris Kaunas team (6-11) which has lost three straight at home. Madrid's high-performing offense ranks first in the league in performance index rating (102.1 per game), assists (20.2 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (174.1%). Zalgiris, meanwhile, has been the competition's most effective team from the foul line, converting 81.9% of its free throws.
And finally, third-placed Olympiacos Piraeus (12-5) hosts fourth-placed Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (11-6). It's a battle of the league's best rebounders, with Baskonia's total haul of 37.2 boards per game marginally better than Olympiacos's total of 37.1. The Greek host has seen its defense reach peak performance in recent weeks, allowing an average of just 66 points in the last three games, all of which resulted in victory. But Olympiacos also has the league's worst assist-to-turnover ratio (113.24%).
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