Regular Season, Round 6: First pair of Top 16 qualifiers revealed
Just one game into the second half of the regular season and two teams can already begin thinking about the next stage. Group B co-leaders Montepaschi Siena and Regal FC Barcelona clinched berths to the Top 16 with Week 6 wins and a handful of other teams can join them next week. This week’s games will also be remembered for seeing the last undefeated team, reigning champion CSKA Moscow, suffer its first defeat of the season in addition to some thrilling games that went down to the closing seconds. In Group A, Olympiacos blasted Air Avellino 91-66 as all 12 Reds played at least 12 minutes and scored at least 3 points. Olympiacos now sits in first place with a 5-1 mark, but faces the two teams tied for second, Cibona and Unicaja, in its next two games. In the same group, Unicaja rocked Le Mans 55-87 to continue climbing the ladder. Thomas Kelati reached the 20-point mark on the road for the second straight week as Unicaja improved to 4-2, while Le Mans continues to search for its first win. Maccabi Electra defeated Cibona 88-83 behind a career night from Lior Eliyahu, whose 24 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists were all career bests. Maccabi moved within one win of the teams in second and now has the potential head-to-head tiebreaker over Cibona. In Group B,Montepaschi Siena downed Asseco Prokom 73-81 on Wednesday to improve to 5-1, but needed to wait 24 more hours before its Top 16 berth was confirmed. All-Euroleague point guard Terrell McIntyre had 26 points for Siena and his backcourt mate, Rimas Kaukenas, added 22. They were able to celebrate advancing together with Regal FC Barcelona, which blasted SLUC Nancy 91-68. Daniel Santiago scored 20 to lead six Barca scorers in double figures. Panathinaikos earned a 69-80 win at Zalgiris to keep the Lithuanian champs winless. The Greens are also tied for the top spot in the group, but must wait another week before securing a spot in the Top 16. Sarunas Jasikevicius scored a season-high 15 points to lead his team to victory. Lottomatica Roma outlasted Alba Berlin 70-64 for its fifth straight win. Ibrahim Jaaber and Andre Hutson rose to the occasion as November MVP Sani Becirovic and Primoz Brezec sat out with injuries, helping Roma improve to 5-1 in Group C. Head coach Jasmin Repesa’s charges could also clinch a Top 16 berth next week. Tau Ceramica topped Fenerbahce Ulker 69-81 in a game that was closer than the final score indicates. Tau pulled away late to grab exclusive hold of second place in the group at 4-2. Mirza Teletovic matched his career high with 19 points for the winners. And DKV Joventut beat Union Olimpija 65-86to join Fener in a tie for third place at 3-3. Luka Bogdanovic paced the winners with 16 points, while star guard Ricky Rubio saw limited action in his much-anticipated return. A full slate of games was played on Wednesday in Group D, which provided much of the excitement as two games went down to the final seconds. In Milano, David Hawkins made a one-hand running shot with 9 seconds remaining to cap a fourth quarter that had featured seven lead changes and six ties as Armani Jeans handed reigning champ CSKA Moscow its first loss of the season, 80-79. CSKA would have been the first team to clinch a spot in the Top 16 with a win, but can still do so next week when it hosts Panionios On Telecoms. A second thriller took place in Athens, where Panionios edged Real Madrid 68-66 as Aaron Miles raced downcourt for a layup with 2.5 seconds left. Panionios won despite Madrid's comeback from 28 points behind, and now both teams are tied for second place Partizan Belgrade at 3-3. Partizan bested Efes Pilsen 83-77 in another game that came down to the last few minutes, as Aleksandar Rasic scored 18 points.