Round 7: Fenerbahce, Panathinaikos soar into Top 16!
The Round 7 of the regular season is in the books, but not before some history was made, milestones were reached, and two more teams from Group C – Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul and Panathinaikos Athens – clinched their places in the Top 16. One game was decided in the final second, and three teams rallied from double-digit deficits as home teams ruled the action in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this week, winning eight of 12 games.
In an outstanding game at Barclaycard Center, Unics Kazan upset Real Madrid 75-85 to send a message which echoed all around the continent. Unics dominated the game from the start of the second half and cruised to a well-deserved and very important win, while snapping Madrid's 21-game Turkish Airlines Euroleague home winning streak. D'or Fischer took over against his former team with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks, while Curtis Jerrells added 23 points. On Friday, Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 85-62 behind a fine effort from Dario Saric. The promising forward tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds as Efes outrebounded its counterpart 52-36. The victory put Efes in a tie for first alongside Madrid. In an intense showdown, Zalgiris Kaunas downed Nizhny Novgorod 55-61 after trailing by as many as 17! James Anderson paced the winners with 18 points. Nizhny took charge early and extended its margin to 37-20 near halftime, but Anderson led a 0-13 run which brought Zalgiris within 37-33. Andersen teamed with Lukas Lekavicius to take charge late and the Zalgiris defense stifled the hosts to secure a well-deserved road win.
In a clash of two Euroleague giants, CSKA Moscow routed Maccabi Electra 61-84 in Tel Aviv, improving to 7-0 record and clinching a top-two finish in the group. The visitors led from start to finish, pulling away to a double-digit lead for good in the third quarter. Sonny Weems scored 19 points to lead five CSKA players in double figures including Sasha Kaun, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Reggie Redding scored in the last second as ALBA Berlin rallied to edge Unicaja Malaga 79-78 in the German capital on Thursday. The visitors led by double figures in the third quarter, but ALBA stormed back with a 14-2 run, and won it in a thrilling fashion. Redding finished the game with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. On Friday, Cedevita Zagreb beat Limoges 102-83 to keep alive its hopes of advancing to the Top 16. With Miro Bilan dominating inside with career-high 24 points and Fran Pilepic hitting five three-pointers on the way to career-high 21 points, Cedevita took control in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit lead for the better part of the game. Limoges hit 15 triples on the night, but Cedevita had 31 assists, and broke the game open with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to improve to 2-5.
Three teams from Group C already have their Top 16 ticket punched. Already-qualified FC Barcelona fended off EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 84-80 after trailing by 14. Milan built its margin early in the second quarter, and still led 43-54 in the third, but Barcelona went on an 11-2 run to take the lead. The game went to the wire and Barcelona scored the final 5 points of the game to improve to 7-0. Ante Tomic scored 18 points and Mario Hezonja had 13 in victory. Panathinaikos Athens defeated Bayern Munich 87-72 to charge into the Top 16 once again. A.J. Slaughter and Antonis Fotsis fueled a 13-2 run to close the half, and the Greens were never threatened again. Slaughter scored 17, and Loukas Mavrokefalidis stepped up with 16 points in victory. The win by Panathinaikos also gave a Top 16 passage for Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, which downed PGE Turow Zgorzelec 89-74 on Thursday. Fener led from start to finish for its third consecutive victory. Behind Andrew Goudelock and Bogdan Bogdanovic, Fenerbahce stormed out of the gate, opened up 19-2 lead and never relinquished it. A strong finish to the third and a 9-1 run to start the fourth quarter broke the game wide open, as Fenerbahce cruised to victory with Goudelock netting 21 points, and Nemanja Bjelica collecting a double-double of 14 points plus 10 rebounds.
On a historic night in the Game of the Week, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria beat Olympiacos Piraeus 89-70 to get an important win in the hunt for a place in the Top 16. Laboral, which scored its 25,000th Euroleague point during the second quarter, took the lead for good in the first and pulled away to bigger ones with a 9-0 run to start the second half. Thomas Heurtel netted 18 points, and Davis Bertans had 17 in victory. Pacing the Reds with 27 points was Vassilis Spanoulis, who became the fourth Euroleague player this century to reach 2,500 in his career. Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade downed Neptunas Klaipeda 79-62, improving to 4-3 and taking another step towards the Top 16 on Thursday. Boban Marjanovic paced the winners with 24 points on 11-of-13 two-point shooting plus 12 rebounds. Jaka Blazic added 19 points for Zvezda, which used a 12-0 third-quarter run to break the game open. On Friday, Valencia Basket topped Galatasaray Liv Hospital 78-71 to keep alive its Top 16 chances. Valencia used a 12-2 first quarter run to grab the lead, and it never relinquished it. The hosts led by as many as 17 points early in the fourth quarter, but Pietro Aradori and Carlos Arroyo cut the final deficit to 7 points, which is the exact margin of Galatasaray's win their first meeting in Istanbul. Kresimir Loncar paced the winners with 15 points, and Luke Harangody collected 13 points and 8 boards. Aradori finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in defeat.
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