Game Center, Round 21: A new leader!
The race for the playoffs intensified in Round 21, which finished with a new leader after CSKA Moscow lost to Fenerbahce Istanbul in a rematch from last season’s championship game and Real Madrid won on the road Friday. A historic comeback by EA7 Emporio Armani Milan to beat Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul and Anadolu Efes Istanbul's victory that snapped Crvena Zvedza mts Belgrade's seven game winning streak set up a tie for the last spot in the playoff zone between the two teams from the same country.
Olympiacos Piraeus overcame injuries to grab its 10th win in its last 12 EuroLeague games by downing Unics Kazan 75-90 on the road on Thursday. Olympiacos improved to 15-6 in the standings, while Unics dropped to 7-14. Erick Green scored 25 points and Georgios Printezis added 20 for the Reds, who were without the injured Vassilis Spanoulis, Patric Young and Matt Lojeski. Keith Langford paced Unics with 25 points. Olympiacos tied a EuroLeague record by getting a 20-point margin after 10 minutes (13-33) and extended it to 16-43 early in the second quarter. Unics improved in the second half to get within 61-69 in the fourth quarter, but Printezis showed great leadership in crunch time and made the critical baskets Olympiacos needed to keep full control of the game.
Fenerbahce Istanbul continued its great form by beating CSKA Moscow 77-71 on Thursday at Fenerbahce Ulker Arena in a rematch of last season’s Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game. Ekpe Udoh returned from injury to post 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks in leading Fenerbahce to its fourth straight win and a 14-7 record, which is one behind Olympiacos Piraeus and CSKA, who are tied for second at 15-6. The loss was CSKA’s fourth in a row on the road. Bogdan Bogdanovic tallied 12 points and 8 assists for the winners. Nando De Colo paced the champs with 23 points. CSKA used a 0-10 run that bridged halftime to take a 36-42 lead early in the third quarter, but the Fenerbahce defense silenced the visitors for the next five minutes during which it reeled off 14 unanswered points and never trailed again.
Zalgiris Kaunas registered its third consecutive win by pulling out an 89-85 decision over visiting FC Barcelona Lassa on Thursday at Zalgirio Arena. Zalgirs improved to 9-12 on the season, while dropping Barcelona to 8-13. The game featured countless lead changes and ties, and neither team had a lead bigger than 6 points in the first 38 minutes. However, a pair of fourth quarter runs, first 9-0 and later 11-2, gave Zalgiris the lead for good and the Lithuanian champs managed to hold on. Lukas Lekavicius had a career-game with 17 points along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals and Edgaras Ulanovas also scored season-high 17 points for the winners. EuroLeague scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with a season-high 17 points.
Brose Bamberg snapped its four-game losing streak by downing Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 90-75 at home on Thursday. Bamberg improved to 8-13 in the standings, while Maccabi dropped to 7-14. Janis Strelnieks paced the winners with 25 points on perfect shooting: 5-of-5 on two-pointers and 5-of-5 from downtown. Andrew Goudelock led Maccabi with 22 points. Maccabi led 41-43 at the break, but Strelnieks led a 15-0 Bamberg charge that bridged the third and fourth quarters and cruised the rest of the way.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan conjured an astonishing comeback to come back from a 25-point deficit and stun Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul with a wild 89-87 victory at Mediolanum Forum. Midway through the third quarter, the visitors led 43-68 and seemed certain to end a two-game losing streak, but then Davide Pascolo and Krunoslav Simon inspired an amazing recovery from a Milan team that looked dead on its feet. Milan won the final 15 minutes 46-19 to complete a season sweep over Darussafaka, improving to 7-14 in the standings, while Darussafaka dropped to 10-11 and hanging onto a place in the top half of the standings by a thread. Pascolo and Simon led the home team’s scorers with 15 points apiece. Brad Wanamaker tallied 20 points and 6 assists for Darussafaka.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens matched the most three-pointers hit by any team in the EuroLeague this season with 16 in defeating Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul 79-84 at Abdi Ipekci Arena on Friday evening. Mike James was one of five Greens with multiple three-pointers and scored 18 points off the bench to lead the winners, who improved to 12-9 and tied for the fifth-best record in the league. James Feldeine made 5 of 6 threes for 15 points and Nick Calathes amassed 10 points and 7 assists for Panathinaikos, which made 51.6% of its threes and also forced 16 Galatasaray turnovers to get the victory. Galatasaray fell to 6-15 despite a strong offensive effort; Tibor Pleiss paced the attack with 15 points.
Real Madrid secured its seventh-consecutive victory to claim sole ownership of first place in the standings with a 71-79 triumph at Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz. Once again, 17 year-old Luka Doncic stole the show with a stellar performance, combining 16 points with 9 rebounds and 6 assists as Madrid ended a three-game losing streak against their Spanish rivals. Madrid improved to 16-5, while Baskonia lost for the fourth time in five games to fall to 12-9. The game’s leading scorer was Baskonia’s Roddy Beaubois with 20 points. Madrid took the lead early in the second quarter and stayed ahead the rest of the way.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul grabbed a valuable road win in the Serbian capital by downing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 72-86 on Friday night. Efes improved to 10-11 and into eighth place, while Zvezda dropped to 12-9 and saw its historic seven-game winning streak come to an end. Derrick Brown led the winners with 20 points and 11 rebounds, DeShaun Thomas scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Thomas Heurtel totaled 12 points and 15 assists to tie his career-high and the most in the EuroLeague this season. Marko Simonovic led Zvezda with 17 points. Efes recorded 27 assists, committed just 11 turnovers and made Zvezda shoot poorly (3-of-16, 18.8%) from three-point range in the biggest keys to the game.