Top 16 Round 13: Three more playoff qualifiers
One of the wildest races in Turkish Airlines Euroleague history tightened up in Round 13. Much of the puzzle was solved in Group E, where only second place will be decided next week after both Panathinaikos Athens and Crvena Zvezda clinched the open playoff spots thanks to fifth place Anadolu Efes Istanbul’s loss. Group F will supply the action in the Top 16 finales; both CSKA Moscow and Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz will have home-court advantage in the playoffs, but five teams remain in contention for the two remaining playoff tickets.
All four playoffs teams are known in this group after Round 13 action, thanks to first place Fenerbahce Istanbul holding off Anadolu Efes Istanbul 90-86 in the Istanbul derby on Friday. This outcome ousted Efes from playoff contention, while promoting Panathinaikos Athens and Crvnea Zvezda Telekom Belgrade into the playoffs. Fenerbahce showed its pride by staying perfect at home despite having nothing to gain. Luigi Datome and Bogdan Bogdanovic combined for 22 points as Fenerbahce broke open a close game with a 29-16 third quarter and led by 18 still with 3:30 to play. Efes somehow rallied from there to make it 88-86 on Jon Diebler's triple with 1 second left, but Datome hit free throws as time ran out on the visitors' season. Datome finished with 24 points and Bogdanovic 21 for the winners. Efes got 14 points and 13 assists from Thomas Heurtel. Later Friday, Panathinaikos beat Cedevita Zagreb 76-60 on a festive night in the Greek capital to improve to 9-4. Three-time champion Dimitris Diamantidis was officially named a Euroleague Basketball Legend before the players took the court, and Panathinaikos forced 10 first-quarter turnovers to open 20-5 lead after 10 minutes. The margin increased to 42-19 at halftime, and ballooned to 53-24 in the third quarter. Cedevita answered with a 5-25 charge to make things interesting before Diamantidis and Antonis Fotsis sealed the deal hitting three-pointers late in the fourth quarter. James Gist paced Panathinaikos with 15 points plus 9 rebounds, and Diamantidis had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on his special night. Panathinaikos now cannot finish worse than third, and can clinch second place and home-court playoff advantage if it wins next week against already-eliminated Efes, but only if Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar also loses at Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. In games on Thursday, Lokomotiv defeated Unicaja Malaga 81-60 to improve to 9-4, and now knows it can claim home-court advantage in the playoffs if it beats Darussafaka next week, or if Panathinaikos loses at Efes. Lokomotiv led for the majority of the game against Unicaja, but the visitors never went away. Late in the third quarter, Matt Janning helped the hosts open a 62-52 lead and Lokomotiv never looked back in a game in which it hit 15 three-pointers on 34 attempts, compared to making 13 two-point shots on 25 attempts. Janning and Malcolm Delaney led the winners with 15 points apiece, and Delaney dished 10 assists, too. Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 16 points for Unicaja. Also on Thursday, Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul beat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 61-80. Zvezda dropped to 7-6, and had its playoff qualification temporarily put on hold, as it turned out, only for 24 hours. The Serbian champions will finish fourth in Group E. Darussafaka led 34-35 at halftime and the teams traded leads in the third quarter, before Jamon Gordon, Scottie Wilbekin and Milko Bjelica led a 4-23 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. The visitors went up 52-66 and cruised to victory as Wilbekin led the way with 19 points and 5 assists and Gordon had 14 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. Quincy Miller collected 18 points plus 7 rebounds for Zvezda.
Four games and four important home wins, but no game was more thrilling than the one at the end on Friday night. Davis Bertans hit an off-balance turnaround triple with 2.3 seconds left to lift Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz over Real Madrid 89-88. Laboral, which learned it mathematically qualified for the playoffs a day earlier, conquered the home-court advantage with the win in front of 14,000 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena. Laboral improved to 9-4 after a game in which Mike James led the winners with 27 points and Ioannis Bourousis added 25 and 10 rebounds. Sergio Rodriguez had 18 points for Madrid, which led 11-26 in the second quarter, but Laboral cut it to 36-46 by halftime, tied it at 67-67 after 30 minutes, and went up 75-69 in the fourth. The visitors hit 6 triples to go in front again, but Laboral rallied again and capped its comeback with the Bertans triple. Madrid dropped to 6-7 and faces a do-or-die game against Khimki Moscow Region in the Spanish capital next week. Madrid will be out with a loss, and will also be eliminated with a win if Laboral, Olympiacos Piraeus and Zalgiris Kaunas also win. Laboral can win the group if it wins, but only if CSKA Moscow loses, too. CSKA beat Zalgiris Kaunas 100-86 on Friday after trailing at halftime. CSKA will also have home-court advantage in the playoffs and can win this group if it beats Olympiacos Piraeus next week, or if Laboral loses to Bamberg. CSKA trailed 47-48 at halftime, but started the second half with a 14-3 charge and held on the rest of the way thanks to Nando De Colo, who starred with 26 points and 7 rebounds. Milos Teodosic added 15 points as CSKA reached triple digits for the fifth time this season. On Thursday, Khimki Moscow Region and FC Barcelona Lassa took significant steps towards playoff qualification with big wins. In the Game of the Week, Khimki Moscow Region routed Olympiacos Piraeus 98-66. The hosts played a near-perfect game, hitting 14 of 29 three-point shots on the night. Alexey Shved connected four times from downtown in a 17-2 second-quarter run as Khimki built a 48-36 lead by halftime. The margin broke the 20-point barrier in the third quarter and peaked at 36 in the fourth. Petteri Koponen came off the bench to make 5 of 7 three-pointers for 21 points in 17 minutes. Shved also drilled 5 threes and scored 19 while James Augustine posted 18 points plus 10 rebounds for Khimki, which improved to 7-6 and will qualify with a win against Madrid next week, and be eliminated with a loss. Olympiacos fell to 6-7 as it suffered its worst Top 16 defeat since losing by 32 points four seasons ago, and is no longer in control of its own destiny. FC Barcelona Lassa thrashed Brose Baskets Bamberg 75-57 at Palau Blaugrana, also improving to 7-6. In addition, Barcelona also won by more than 10 points, which in multiple potential tie-breakers means it can only be eliminated if it loses on the road at Zalgiris Kaunas in Round 14, and Bamberg, Khimki and Olympiacos all win, too. Meanwhile, Bamberg dropped to 6-7 and can only qualify only if it beats Laboral Kutxa next week and both Olympiacos and Zalgiris win, too. Barcelona took control against Bamberg with a 10-0 run in the first, and a 16-2 charge in the second quarter, opening up a 43-23 halftime lead from which the visitors never recovered. Alex Abrines paced the winners with 13 points, while Ante Tomic and Justin Doellman each scored 12. Brad Wanamaker tallied 16 points and 8 rebounds for Bamberg.
Don't miss any of the drama on Euroleague.net and Euroleague.tv!