Game Center: Regular Season, Round 28
Only one ticket to the playoffs remains after Anadolu Efes held off rival Fenerbahce in the Istanbul to advance and eliminate Zalgiris Kaunas. Five of the Round's games were won by the road teams, including the showdowns between playoff-bound teams in Vitoria Gastiez and Piraeus.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul secured a spot in the playoffs by holding off a late Fenerbahce Istanbul charge for an 80-77 victory on Thursday at Abdi Ipekci Arena. Efes led from start to finish for its third straight victory and the seventh in its last eight games. The win took Efes’s record to 16-12, while Fenerbahce, which had already clinched a playoff berth, fell to 17-11. The hosts led by as many as 17 points before Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench to help Fenerbahce rally in the second half. The deficit was shrunk to 2 in the final minute and Fenerbahce had a shot to tie it in the closing seconds, but Bobby Dixon missed. Bryant Dunston paced the Efes attack with 14 points and Jayson Granger tallied 13 points and 5 assists. Dixon led Fenerbahce with 19 points and 8 rebounds and Bogdanovic scored 16 and dished 4 assists in 17 minutes.
Zalgiris Kaunas bounced back from a home loss by topping Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 77-93 on the road at Menorah Mivtachim Arena on Thursday. Zalgiris improved to 13-15, but despite its win was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs race earlier in the evening when Anadolue Efes Istanbul won. Maccabi dropped to 10-18. Edgaras Ulanovas led the winners with 20 points. Victor Rudd paced Maccabi with 16 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting. Zalgiris used a late 0-10 run to take a 33-44 halftime advantage. Maccabi made 14 of 24 three-point shots (58.3%), but Zalgiris dominated in the paint, making 31-of-48 shots inside the arc (64.6%). Zalgiris dished 23 assists and committed only 9 turnovers in one of the biggest keys to its win.
Brose Bamberg withstood a spirited comeback from EA7 Emporio Armani Milan as Coach Andrea Trinchieri and power forward Nicolo Melli made a winning return to the Italian city by securing a 76-84 triumph. At first it looked easy, with Bamberg going 20 ahead in the second quarter. But Milan gradually whittled the deficit down to just 5 points, until a final flurry from the visitors sealed the outcome. Fabien Causeur was Bamberg’s outstanding performer; he scored 17 points with a key late triple to secure the victory and Melli combined 9 points with 8 rebounds. Miroslav Raduljica was a powerhouse for Milan with 19 points and 9 rebounds, while Ricky Hickman netted 20 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting. But Bamberg’s team display of long-range shooting, with seven different players hitting triples as the team went 10 of 21, eventually made the difference.
In a battle of playoff-bound teams hoping to snatch home-court advantage, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens went on the road to lead from tip to buzzer in beating Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 63-72 on Thursday. The victory improved Panathinaikos’s record to 17-11, which is the same as fourth-place Fenerbahce Istanbul, but Fenerbahce has the tiebreak advantage. The victory also gave Panathinaikos a season-sweep of Baskonia, which dropped to 16-12 and seventh place. Panathinaikos had a dream start, not allowing Baskonia to get into any offensive rhythm. The Greens needed no time to open a double-digit margin and their lead was as big as 22 points in the third quarter, before Baskonia attempted a late charge, but never really threatened. Chris Singleton was all over the place for the winners with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots and Nick Calathes collected 8 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Adam Hanga finished the game with 13 points in the losing effort.
CSKA Moscow’s All-EuroLeague guards were in superb form Friday to lead the team to a 74-85 road win at Unics Kazan. Nando De Colo won his showdown with the EuroLeague’s top scorer, Keith Langford, by scoring 22 points, while the league’s assist leader, Milos Teodosic, tallied 12 points and 12 assists for the champs. The victory lifted CSKA to 21-7, while Unics lost its 11th straight game to fall to 7-21. What’s more, Unics may have also lost starting point guard Quino Colom, who was helped off the court in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury. CSKA overcame its 17 turnovers by shooting 6 of 12 from downtown in the second half and outrebounding Unics 30-35. Langford paced the hosts with 17 points.
Darussafaka Dogus kept its playoff hopes alive with a battling 73-67 victory in the Istanbul derby against Galatasaray Odeabank. The home team trailed by 7 points in the first quarter, but won the rebounding battle 40-31 and leaned heavily on an outstanding defensive effort, which restricted Galatasaray to just 28 points in the second half. The trio of Brad Wanamaker (22 points and 6 rebounds), Will Clyburn (15 points and 9 rebounds) and Scottie Wilbekin (13 points) was pivotal for Darussafaka, with Galatasrary’s challenge being led by Vladimir Micov’s 17 points. The third quarter ended up proving pivotal, with Darussafaka launching a 19-5 run to establish a lead that it never relinquished.
In a battle of two teams that have already secured home-court advantage in the playoffs, Real Madrid secured a top-two finish at the end of the regular season with a hard-fought 73-79 win over Olympiacos Piraeus at Peace and Friendship Stadium. Madrid improved to 21-7 and left it in the driver’s seat knowing two wins in the last two games will secure it first place at the end of the regular season. Olympiacos dropped to 19-9 and remains in third place. Neither team had a double-digit lead the entire night, but Madrid’s Anthony Randolph and Sergio Llull, scoring 21 points apiece, got the better of the Olympiacos defense and kept the visitors in front throughout the fourth quarter. Llull also dished 5 assists, while Randolph pulled down 5 boards and had 4 blocks. Nikola Milutinov paced the hosts with a career-high 18 points. Olympiacos was without Georgios Printezis due to illness.
FC Barcelona Lassa defeated Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 67-54 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday. Barcelona improved to 11-17, while Zvezda dropped to 15-13 and ranks eighth overall, one win ahead of Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul - the other team with a chance to advance to the playoffs. Stratos Perperoglou led the winners with 17 points, while Victor Claver pulled down 10 rebounds. Nate Wolters, Charles Jenkins and Luka Mitrovic scored 8 points apiece in defeat. Barcelona forced the visitors into 13 turnovers and 5-of-29 shooting (17.2%) from behind the arc.