Round 6: CSKA, Barcelona and Olympiacos reach Top 16!
The first three tickets to the Top 16 were claimed by traditional powerhouses CSKA Moscow, FC Barcelona and Olympiacos Piraeus on a busy Thursday of basketball that featured eight games. There was plenty of excitement with half the games being won by visiting teams, two decided by a single point, another by 3 points and several double-digit comebacks. Friday was its equal with a double-overtime thriller in Istanbul, Marcus Williams of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade setting a new competition record for assists, three late comeback and two more road wins!
Round 6’s opening game on Thursday was a thriller that went down to the final shot, as Unics Kazan edged Anadolu Efes Istanbul 67-64 after rallying from a 15-point deficit. Keith Langford had 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, including 4 of 4 free throws in the final 5.8 seconds to lead Unics, while D'or Fischer added 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. Dario Saric collected 13 points plus 9 rebounds for Efes. In an outstanding game that came down to the final shot, Real Madrid edged Zalgiris Kaunas 66-68 in front of almost 15,000 fans in Lithuania on Friday. Sergio Rodriguez, in his first Euroleague start since the 2012-13 season, paced the winners with 14 points. James Anderson and Darius Songaila gave the hosts a 65-56 advantage with less than four minutes left, but Los Blancos stormed back with a 1-12 run and Anderson missed a six-meter shot at the buzzer. Nizhny Novgorod held off Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 82-89. Behind a career-high 29 points from Taylor Rochestie, Nizhny used a 0-14 run late in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good. Tarence Kinsey scored 15 points with 9 rebounds and Trey Thompkins amassed 13 points plus 15 rebounds in a game that saw Nizhny lead for the entire fast-paced high-scoring first half, during which each team made 8 triples on 16 attempts. A 12-0 run to start the third quarter gave Sassari a 58-53 advantage, however, Rochestie fueled a 0-14 run that put Nizhny up for good and paved the way to victory.
CSKA Moscow hammered ALBA Berlin 95-66, becoming the first team to qualify to the Top 16. CSKA Moscow dominated from the start behind its stiff defense and offense led by Nando De Colo and Aaron Jackson. The hosts held a 48-18 late in the second quarter and cruised to victory and a 6-0 record by hitting 15 triples and with Nando De Colo netting 22 points and Aaron Jackson 18. In the Game of the Week, the reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv edged Limoges CSP 73-79 on the road Thursday night. Maccabi led by 18 points in the third quarter, but Limoges rallied behind Leo Westermann and Adrien Moerman, taking over the lead in the fourth quarter. However, Jeremy Pargo scored 9 of his 13 points in the final minute to secure Maccabi’s win. Sylven Landesberg led the way with 22 points plus 9 rebounds in victory, while Yogev Ohayon had 11 points, 6 assists and 8 steals, which is a club record and the most steals in a single Euroleague game in more than six years. Unicaja Malaga downed Cedevita Zagreb 82-73 at home on Friday. Ryan Toolson paced the winners with 19 points off the bench. It was close game with the visitors drawing within 68-67 early in the fourth quarter, but Unicaja improved its defense in crunch time and found a go-to guy in Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who helped Unicaja grab a very valuable home win.
All three games in the group took place on Thursday and all three went to the visiting team. FC Barcelona blasted host FC Bayern Munich 77-99 on a historic night in which it set a club record, clinched a Top 16 berth and remained undefeated in this Euroleague season. Barcelona scored 60 first-half points to set a team record that had stood since 2003 when it recorded 58 first-half points against Cibona. Marcelinho Heurtas, Bostjan Nachbar and Juan Carlos Navarro led the way in Munich with 15 points each. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul held off EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 74-80. Fenerbahce needed great composure as Milan tried to rally late, and got it from Nemanja Bjelica, who had 6 points and a big defensive play in the final minute to seal the victory. Ricky Hickman led the winners with 14 and Semih Erden had 12 and 7 rebounds, while Bjelica scored 11 to go with 8 rebounds. MarShon Brooks scored all of his 17 points while trying to rally Milan from double-digit in the second half. Panathinaikos Athens downed PGE Turow Zgorzelec 69-79. Loukas Mavrokefalidis paced the winners with 21 points, James Gist added 16 and Nikos Pappas scored 14 for Panathinaikos. Pappas and Mavrokefalidis fueled a 0-12 run that put the Greens ahead for good, 13-20, and Pappas and Gist soon gave Panathinaikos its first double-digit lead, 24-35, midway through the second quarter. And the visitors never looked back.
Round 6 presented games to remember for all six teams. Zoran Erceg and Carlos Arroyo took turns in the spotlight to lead Galatasaray Liv Hospital over Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 110-103 in a memorable double-overtime duel at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul. Erceg scored 32 points and was perfect in 14 trips to the line, while Arroyo piled up 26 points and 6 assists. History was made for the visitors too; Marcus Williams set a new Euroleague record with 17 assists, Mitrovic nearly doubled his previous high with 30 points to set a new club record and Boban Marjanovic’s 17 rebounds were the most in the Euroleague in three seasons. Olympiacos Piraeus edged Valencia Basket 77-76 in a thriller, remaining perfect on the season, and more importantly, qualifying for the Top 16. In a game that featured five lead changes and three ties in the last three and a half minutes, Vassilis Spanoulis scored what proved to be the game-winning free throw with 11.5 seconds left. Spanoulis led the hosts with 15 points and 7 assists, and Bryant Dunston added 14 points in victory. Neptunas Klaipeda survived a comeback by Laboral Kutxa Vitoria in an 80-79 win. The hosts led 53-35 midway through the third quarter, but Laboral rallied behind triples from Thomas Heurtel. The game went down to the wire, as Simas Galdikas scored the game winner with 13 seconds left for Neptunas to improve to 3-3, while Laboral, in its first game under head coach Ibon Navarro, dropped to 2-4. Donatas Zavackas and Mustafa Shakur had 16 points each for the winners, while Heurtel finished with 31 points, his Euroleague career-high, on 8-for-10 three-point shooting.
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