2011-12 Top 16, Week 5: CSKA, Barca, Maccabi and Panathinaikos reach playoffs!
After what was perhaps the greatest week of games in Top 16 history, four teams are in the playoffs, five have been sent home and Top 16, Week 6 sets up for incredible drama with five games that will decide the playoff lineup – including a win-or-go-home clash for one remaining spot and a head-to-head battle for first place in another group. Among the eight Week 5 games, there were two buzzer-beaters, two more that came down to the final seconds and a pair of monumental comebacks. The week began in the Russian capital, where CSKA Moscow dominated Olympiacos 96-64 to bounce back from its first loss of the season by advancing to the playoffs and clinching first place in Group E. Andrey Vorontsevich scored 15 to lead six CSKA scorers in double figures as the team won its 10th straight Euroleague home game. Later in the same group, GS Medical Park KO’d rival Anadolu Efes 64-56. Luksa Andric scored 15 to lead the Euroleague debutantes, who travel to Olympiacos next week to battle for the remaining playoff ticket from the group. Galatasaray will advance if it wins – or even if it loses by 1 point. Olympiacos heads to the playoffs if it wins by 2 or more. The loss ended Efes’s hopes of reaching the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four, which will be played on its home floor this season. Wednesday’s other game was in Group E, where Gescrap BB edged Montepaschi Siena 60-59 on a Raul Lopez buzzer-beater. The loss denied Montepaschi a chance to reach the playoffs already. Marko Banic tallied 16 points and 8 rebounds and Lopez scored 15 for the men in black. Real Madrid blasted Unicaja 86-65 on Thursday in that group to keep its playoff chances alive. Nikola Mirotic tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds for Los Blancos, who need a big win in Siena or some help from Unicaja next week to have a chance at advancing. Thursday’s early game was another big-time thriller. Fenerbahce Ulker stunned Unics Kazan 94-87 in overtime in an instant classic. The hosts, who needed to win by at least 6 to keep their chances alive, rallied from 13 down in the fourth quarter and forced overtime on a Roko Ukic buzzer-beater. Then the Turkish champs took over and raced to the win, though it was close when Kazan had a chance to reduce the margin in the closing seconds. Ukic finished with 18 points and Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with 20. Lynn Greer led Unics with 33 points, tying the third-best scoring mark in Top 16 history. Later EA7 Emporio Armani Milan upset Panathinaikos 58-67, but the result still sent the Greens through to the playoffs and eliminated Milan. Armani needed to win by 21 or more to keep its playoff chanced alive. Nicolo Melli paced the winners with 13 points, while Omar Cook set a club Euroleague record with 12 assists. Panathinaikos travels to Kazan next week to battle Unics for first place. Unics could be first if it wins, but would be left out with a loss and a Fenerbahce victory. In another game featuring late drama, Maccabi Electra bested Zalgiris Kaunas 70-66. The hosts rallied from 17 points behind in the second quarter, took the lead early in the fourth quarter and held off the Lithuanian champs in an exciting finish. Keith Langford paced the winners with 17 points. That win was enough to send Maccabi into the playoffs only after FC Barcelona Regal defeated Bennet Cantu 62-63. Barca improved to 5-0 and secured first place in Group H with the win. Boni Ndong scored 13 and Juan Carlos Navarro added 12 for the Spanish champs. Now the stage is set for a great finale to the Top 16!