Top 16 Round 9
Four of the five teams with the best Top 16 records face road tests in Top16 Round 9, including both group leaders. While those teams focus on making a push for home-court advantage in the playoffs, several other teams have a last chance to get back into a playoff hunt this week. The action is split over three days, with one game on Wednesday and four more on Thursday before Top 16 Round 9 concludes with three games on Friday.
In a key matchup and a classic showdown, FC Barcelona held off Panathinaikos Athens 77-81 on the road on Thursday, jumping up into a share of second place in the standings. Alex Abrines and Tomas Satoransky fueled a 0-12 run to end the half and give Barcelona a 32-42 halftime advantage, which the visitors never relinquished. The hosts did come within 73-75 late in the game, but Barcelona held on as Justin Doellman finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds, and Juan Carlos Navarros netted 17. Esteban Batista had 16 points and 9 rebounds for the Greens. In the Serbian capital, Boban Marjanovic had a monster game with 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds as Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade downed Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 89-76. A 20-0 fourth quarter run was the difference. Marcus Williams netted 9 of his 17 points during the big run, and Charles Jenkins scored half of his 16 points during that key run, too.Marjanovic’s 17 rebounds are tied for third-best ever output in Top 16 history, and the most total rebounds since his countryman Dusko Savanovic collected 17 boards three years ago. On Wednesday, Reggie Redding shined with a career-high 27 points plus 7 rebounds and 5 assists as ALBA Berlin held off a late Zalgiris Kaunas charge for an 80-72 victory at o2 World in the German capital. After a big first quarter from Jonas Wohlfarth and a dominant second-quarter from Redding, ALBA led 42-37 at halftime. The hosts seemed to take control with a strong defensive third quarter to establish a double-digit lead, which reached 16 early in the fourth. Zalgiris rallied late behind Paulius Jankunas and drew within 5 on an Arturas Milaknis triple with two minutes to go, however second-chance baskets by Leon Radosevic and Alex Renfroe helped seal the win. Renfroe finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals. The hosts outrebounded Zalgiris 35-17. Group E action concludes on Friday when Galatasaray Liv Hospital (2-6) faces group leader Real Madrid (7-1) at home. The two teams met for the first time ever last year in the Top 16, a series Madrid swept, and Los Blancos hope to do the same this season. Galatasaray will have a tough task trying to end its five-game losing streak, going against a team that dominates on both ends of the floor in the Top 16 – Madrid ranks first in assists (21.8) and second in scoring (86.3), while having league-best 10.6 steals and 17.8 turnovers, in addition to allowing the second-lowest 71.4 points per game.
Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul topped Nizhny Novgorod 92-79, registering its sixth consecutive win in the Top 16 on Thursday. Fenerbahce improved to 7-2 and came closer to clinching a playoffs spot, as Nemanja Bjelica led the winners with 16 points. Ricky Hickman and Jan Vesely each added 13. Bjelica, Hickman and Bogdan Bogdanovic fueled a 26-3 run that Emir Preldzic capped with a fast break layup to break the game open at 42-20. The visitors came within 60-55 late in the third, but never closer than that. Trey Thompkins led Nizhny with 22 points and 11 rebounds. CSKA Moscow rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 74-81 in front of over 12,600 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena on Thursday. Laboral led 33-17 early in the second quarter, but CSKA improved its defense and CSKA went up 44-45 in the third. The game went down to the wire and Sonny Weems and Nando De Colo sealed the outcome. Vitaly Fridzon led the winners with 13 points, while Milos Teodosic and De Colo each added 11 for CSKA. Darius Adams led Laboral with 31 points. On Friday, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan will look to keep its playoff hopes alive when it hosts group leader Olympiacos Piareus (7-1). Milan is yet to win at home in the Top 16, but comes into this clash with a big boost of confidence after last week's big road win in Nizhny behind Top 16 Round 8 bwin MVP Samardo Samuels, followed by a 50-point victory in the domestic league on Sunday. Olympiacos is the second-best three-point shooting team in the Top 16 (9.1 triples, 39.5%), and has the Top 16's best defense (70.6 ppg). The Reds look to stay in control of the group with a win, which would also all but mathematically secure their playoff spot. Also on Friday, last place Unicaja Malaga (1-7) welcomes Anadolu Efes Istanbul (4-4). Both sides enter this contest on a two-game losing streak. Unicaja wants to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, while knowing that another loss would all but mathematically eliminate it from playoff contention. Unicaja is the best offensive rebounding team in the competition (13.8 orpg.) while Efes ranks last in that compartment (7.6 orpg.). But the visitors have many other weapons. They are one of the most successful three-point shooting teams in the Top 16 - third with 8.9 triples on a fourth-best 39.4% accuracy. Efes also takes good care of the ball, ranking third with only 10.6 turnovers, while on defense the teams ranks third with 7.4 steals.