Top 16, Round 12: Lokomotiv storms the playoffs!
After three days of action in Top 16 Round 12, one more team – Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar – joined previously qualified Fenerbahce Istanbul and CSKA Moscow in clinching its playoff spot, while 9 other teams with playoff chances are left waiting at least one more week.
There was plenty to celebrate at the Basket Hall on Thursday after Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar routed Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 86-62 to advance to playoffs for the first time in club history. In addition to the victory, which boosted Lokomotiv’s record to 8-4, it also avenged a 14-point loss to Zvezda in Belgrade in January and gave it the potential head-to-head tiebreak advantage in the race for second place in Group E and home-court advantage in the playoffs. With the score tied at 28-28 in the second quarter, four different Lokomotiv players nailed three-pointers in a 14-3 run and the visitors never recovered. The lead stood at 10 at halftime and reached 18 in the third quarter. Zvezda had a chance to fight for the tiebreaker in the fourth quarter, but Chris Singleton put the finishing touches on for Lokomotiv as it cruised to victory. Anthony Randolph and Singleton scored 17 points apiece for the winners, while Malcolm Delaney compiled 12 points and 9 assists. The visitors were doomed by their 22 turnovers. Panathinaikos Athens edged Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 84-86 on a pair of Elliot Williams free throws with 2.4 seconds left to also improve to 8-4. Williams, who was 10 for 10 from the free throw line in the game, had already tied it with a three-pointer with 27 seconds to go. The teams traded leads for the entire second half, with neither building a lead bigger than 5 points. Miroslav Raduljica paced the winners with 21 points. For the hosts, Erden scored 16 of his 18 points in the first quarter as Darussafaka led by as many as 13 in the second
quarter, but the visitors closed the gap to 2 at the break and set up an exciting second half. On Friday, Zvezda and Panathinaikos learned they will have to wait at least another week to clinch playoff spots when Anadolu Efes Istanbul dumped Unicaja Malaga 87-67. Behind double-doubles from Thomas Heurtel and Dario Saric, Efes led from start to finish, opening the game with a 15-2 lead and finishing the second quarter with a 16-2 charge to hold a 49-30 halftime lead. Unicaja never came closer than 9 points in the second half. Heurtel finished with 17 points and 13 assists, and Saric had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Also on Friday, last-place Cedevita Zagreb routed first place Fenerbahce Istanbul 89-59. It was Cedevita's largest ever margin of victory in a Euroleague, and the worst defeat for Fenerbahce since a 39-point drubbing at the hands of Barcelona in the 2012-13 season. Cedevita jumped ahead from the start behind Marko Arapovic and outscored the visitors in all four quarters to improve to 3-9 record. Arapovic finished with 18 points, and Miro Bilan scored 15 in victory. Fenerbahce, which had already clinched first place, dropped to 10-2.
The drama that spanned over three days in Group F did not result in a single playoff qualification, but rather in a situation where five teams share a 6-6 record. In an all-Spanish clash and this week’s opener on Wednesday, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz held off FC Barcelona Lassa 75-71 to improve to 8-4. Ioannis Bourousis and Mike James fueled a 15-3 run that put Laboral in control in the second quarter, and the two players deserved most of the credit for pushing the margin to double-digits and to 58-45 early in the fourth. But Alex Abrines hit 3 three-pointers to rally the visitors and a three from Stratos Perperoglou tied the game at 65-65 with 3:45 left. However, the visitors never went in front as Jaka Blazic and Kim Tillie made key baskets down the stretch to help Laboral win. Bourousis paced the winners with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and James had 14 points and 5 assists in victory. Tomas Satoransky had a career-high 20 points with 6 assists in the losing effort. Brose Baskets Bamberg beat CSKA Moscow 91-83 to increase the intrigue in the group. Nicolo Melli led the way for Bamberg with 17 points as the German champions knocked off CSKA for the first time after losing their previous 11 matchups. Nikos Zisis and Leon Radosevic both added 14 points. It was a 1-point game in the final minute, but the hosts made 5 free throws and played excellent defense to close out a historic victory. CSKA, which missed a chance to secure home-court advantage in the playoffs, got 21 points from Nando De Colo. On Friday, Khimki Moscow Region bested Zalgiris Kaunas on the
road 71-76 to join Barcelona and Bamberg at 6-6. After trailing 37-35 at halftime, Tyler Honeycutt led Khimki's third-quarter charge to open a 49-56 lead, then a 2-9 spurt helped build a 14-point lead and Khimki never looked back. Tyrese Rice led the winners with 17 points, while Honeycutt totaled 10 points, 17 rebounds and 4 steals in victory. In the final game in the group, Olympiacos Piraeus downed Real Madrid 99-84 in a rematch from last season’s championship game. Both Madrid and Olympiacos also have 6-6 records, but the Reds took the tie-break advantage between them by overcoming Madrid's 84-72 win in the Spanish capital. Vangelis Mantzaris led the winners with 19 points on 6-of-6 three-point shooting – a new career high, and Vassilis Spanoulis finished with 18 in a game in which Olympiacos pulled away with a 30-16 second quarter to open 53-33 lead at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, and Olympiacos held off Madrid's final attempt to get the margin below 12 points.
Don't miss any of the drama on Euroleague.net and Euroleague.tv!