Game Center, Top 16 Round 11: Only four tickets remain!
Thursday’s five games saw another team claim a playoff berth; FC Barcelona advanced with some help from Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. Then on Friday: Group F co-leaders Fenerbahce Ulker marched into the playoffs too, while Laboral Kutxa Vitoria denied Olympiacos Piraeus. Only four tickets to the playoffs remains. The race to Madrid keeps heating up!
FC Barcelona advanced to the playoffs on Thursday night - exactly 30 years after lifting its first European trophy, the 1985 Cup Winners' Cup. FC Barcelona beat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 73-77 in front of over 18,000 fans in the Serbian capital for its fifth consecutive win in Top 16 Group E by, but could not celebrate a spot in the next stage until Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv completed its victory over Zalgiris Kaunas later in the evening. Juan Carlos Navarro led the winners with 12 points and Tomas Satoransky added 11 and 10 rebounds. Boban Marjanovic posted 23 points and 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double this season for Zvezda. The game saw both teams take promising leads before the hosts entered the fourth quarter up 50-48. A mid-range jumper by Stefan Jovic tied it at 56-56, but Navarro led a 0-8 run that put Barcelona ahead for good, 56-64. Zvezda got within 67-68 in the next-to-last minute, but Navarro fed Ante Tomic for a slam and made free throws for a 67-73 score. Blazic hit back-to-back three-pointers, but free throws by Justin Doellman and Satoransky allowed Barcelona to escape Kombank Arena with a win. Jeremy Pargo tied a career high with 26 points as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv held off Zalgiris Kaunas 79-72 at Menorah Mivtachim Arena to improve its standing in Top 16 Group E. Maccabi appeared to be cruising when it took a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter, however Zalgiris kept the hosts scoreless for six minutes in drawing within 66-60. Pargo ended the Maccabi drought and went on to score 10 points in the final four minutes to lead the champs to victory. Devin Smith added 19 points for the winners. Arturas Milaknis made 4 of 7 threes in scoring 19 for Zalgiris. ALBA Berlin defeated Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 75-68 in the German capital. Marko Banic scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 17 minutes and Reggie Redding recorded 10 points and 10 assists to pace the winners, who also welcomed Jamel McLean back from injury. Belrinw as cruising with an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, but a run of threes by Ender Arslan brought the visitors to within 3 points in the closing minutes. A layup by Banic and free throws by Alex Renfroe clinched the win that kept ALBA strong in the playoff hunt. On Friday, Panathinaikos Athens routed Real Madrid 85-69 in front of 17,200 fans in the Greek capital. Madrid saw its five-game winning streak come to an end, but kept first place despite the loss. Nikos Pappas paced the winners with 22 points on perfect shooting from the field and 7 of 8 from the line. Pappas dominated with 12 third-quarter points, scoring in many different ways and giving Panathinaikos a 69-53 advantage after 30 minutes. Nothing changed from that moment, as the Greens kept a big margin all the way until the final buzzer.
Group co-leader Fenerbahce Ulker routed EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 98-77 on Friday night at Ulker Sports Arena for its eighth straight Turkish Airlines Euroleague victory, which also guaranteed it a spot in the playoffs. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 25 points to lead the winners in a game that was close for three quarters. It was tied 61-61 late in the third quarter and the Italian champs only trailed by 6 with six minutes to go, but the hosts finished the game on a 23-8 tear to snag the victory. MarShon Brooks totaled 21 points and 5 assists in defeat. In a game where neither team had a lead bigger than 7 points, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria edged Olympiacos Piraeus 74-73. The result denied the Reds a chance to advance to the playoffs, but they can advance with a win in any of their remaining games. Laboral improved to 5-6 in Top 16 Group F, where it shares fourth place with Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Mike James strung together 9 of his game-high 17 points for a 9-2 run that put Laboral up for good, 72-68 late in the fourth quarter. With 67 second remaining, Davis Bertans sank a long jumper, which turned out to be the difference in the game. Olympiacos had chances to win in the final minutes, but Laboral held on as James finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Georgios Printezis collected 15 points and 7 rebounds in defeat. In the fourth meeting between the teams this season, CSKA Moscow downed Unicaja Malaga 77-95 on the road on Thursday. CSKA had already clinched a playoffs spot before the game and improved to 9-2. Milos Teodosic paced the winners with 25 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting and 8 assists. Nando De Colo added 19 points while Sasha Kaun scored 16 on 7-of-7 two-point shooting for CSKA. Kenan Karahodzic’s layup gave Unicaja its only lead of the game, 36-34, in the second quarter. De Colo, Andrey Vorontsevich and Kaun stepped up to give CSKA a 42-47 edge at halftime. Teodosic took over after the break and got plenty of help from Kaun and Aaron Jackson to break the game open, 56-72, through three quarters and nothing changed after that. Anadolu Efes Istanbul beat Nizhny Novgorod 79-75 in the Game of the Week to snap its four-game winning streak and improved its chances in the playoff race. Efes, playing without big man Nenad Krstic, took control in the first half behind Thomas Heurtel and Milko Bjelica. Dario Saric lifted the hosts to 48-39 halftime lead and the margin remained in double figures for most of the second half. A triple from Cedi Osman extended it to 75-57 in the fourth quarter. Nizhny tried to rally, but the hosts’ lead, and victory, was never in danger. Bjelica finished with 15 points, while Osman and Stephane Lasme had 13 apiece in victory. Artsiom Parakhouski collected 22 points and 7 rebounds for Nizhny, which was missing Trey Thompkins and Tarence Kinsey.
Follow all the action as it happens live on the Euroleague's official twitter account, @Euroleague, on LiveBasketball.tv, on many other television networks around the world and, of course, right here on Euroleague.n