Regular Season, Round 8: Anadolu Efes, Maccabi, Cantu dance to Top 16!
Week 8 games produced three more Top 16 berths, a new Euroleague record and a buzzer-beating game-winner for the ages. Four games were decided by 5 points or less and two teams remained unbeaten. With two games left for each team, no one has yet to clinch first place in a regular season group and 13 teams are battling for seven remaining tickets to the Top 16. Group A remains the center of attentions with every game having life or death implications on the Top 16. Bennet Cantu stunned Gescrap BB 64-67 on a nine-meter Gianluca Basile game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer on Wednesday to finish an instant classic. Cantu led most of the game, Bilbao stormed back and seemed to have taken the lead in the closing seconds on a Kostas Vasiliadis triple, but alas his foot was on the line and the score was tied. On a last chance desperation shot before overtime, Basile came through to put one foot into the Top 16 for the victors. Cantu’s second foot landed in the Top 16 later Wednesday when Fenerbahce Ulker downed SLUC Nancy 53-73 in a game that was close until the fourth quarter. James Gist scored 16 to lead the Turkish champs, who with 5 wins can also begin eyeing the Top 16. In Thursday’s lone Group A fixture, Olympiacos held off Caja Laboral 84-82, which left those clubs with even records at 4-4 and an even score difference between them. Vassilis Spanoulis scored 21 points and dished 5 assists for the winners; Mirza Teletovic netted a career-high 32 in defeat. In Group B, CSKA Moscow bested KK Zagreb 87-74 in a game that was closer than the final score would indicate. Nenad Krstic scored 14 and grabbed 9 boards to lead undefeated CSKA, which became the first team this season to win eight games. Panathinaikos spanked Zalgiris 59-94 in Lithuania to at a minimum lock up second place in Group B. Nick Calathes and Steven Smith scored 17 points apiece for the Greens. Brose Baskets beat Unicaja 79-90 on the road Thursday to deny the hosts a chance to reach the Top 16. Julius Jenkins produced 23 points and 5 assists off the bench and P.J. Tucker added a double-double for the German champs, who tied Unicaja for third place in the group at 4-4. Anadolus Efes and Maccabi Electra are both through to the Top 16 from Group C. After Efes downed EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 84-70 on Wednesday, the hosts clinched a berth and advanced Maccabi too, even though the Israeli champs didn’t play until Thursday. Real Madrid steamrolled Maccabi 88-64 in the Game of the Week as Rising Star Award winner Nikola Mirotic dominated with 26 points and 8 rebounds. The win lifted Madrid into first place with a 6-2 record, while Maccabi is tied for second with Efes. Those two meet in Tel Aviv next week. Belgacom Spirou defeated Partizan mt:s 84-79 to deny the Serbian champ in their first bid to reach the Top 16. Demond Mallet scored 22 for Spirou, which despite the win saw its Top 16 chances run out. In Group D’s Wednesday game, Asseco Prokom bested Union Olimpija 67-52 for its first win. Donatas Motiejunas was the Prokom hero as he dominated the glass in setting a new Euroleague record with 18 defensive rebounds. He also became the third player in competiton history to grab more than 20 total rebounds in one game. FC Barcelona Regal trumped Unics Kazan 63-50 to stay undefeated. Juan Carlos Navarro registered 13 points to lead a balanced Barca attack. Injury-plagued Montepaschi Siena rallied past Galatasaray Medical Park 63-67 in a game that would have sent the hosts into the next stage with a win. David Andersen posted 18 points and 8 rebounds to pace the Italian champs.