Regular Season, Round 9: Cedevita, Panathinaikos, Khimki advance!
With Round 9 in the books, there are still three Top 16 spots up for grabs in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, with six teams still having a chance to qualify. Three teams clinched their places on Friday, with all four spots being decided in Groups B and C. But Groups A and D have three do-or-die Round 10 matchups set, which will determine who are the final three teams that will play in the Top 16.
After regular season Round 9 there are still two Top 16 spots left up for grabs in Group A. Khimki Moscow Region used a late 0-15 run to down Strasbourg on the road 69-78, qualifying to the next phase. In victory, Alexey Shved scored 23 points and Tyler Honeycutt added a double-double of 15 points and 19 rebounds, a new Euroleague rebounding season-high and the best mark in the competition since 2011. In a tight contest, Strasbourg held a 66-63 margin with 6 minutes left, but Marko Todorovic and Shved fueled a run of 15 unanswered points, sending Khimki to the Top 16. In a highly-anticipated clash, the defending champion Real Madrid raced past Bayern Munich 67-86 on the road to keep alive its chances of reaching the Top 16. Both teams hold 4-5 records ahead of the regular season finale. The game was close through the first half, which finished with Bayern up 38-36. However, a 2-18 third-quarter run highlighted a second half that saw Los Blancos outscore Bayern 29-50 to take the win. Gustavo Ayon collected 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals and 2 blocks. Sergio Llull scored 18 points, and Sergio Rodriguez dished in 10 assists in victory. Bayern's K.C. Rivers scored 22 against his former team. Fenerbahce Istanbul beat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 79-61, pulling away in the second half behind a great defensive effort and clinching the first place in the group. The hosts led the entire second half, keeping Zvezda scoreless for almost 5 minutes to start both third and fourth quarters. Ekpe Udoh had 13 points and 4 blocks, while Luigi Datome collected 12 points and 8 rebounds for Fenerbahce. Zvezda holds 4-5 record in a three-way tie with Bayern and Madrid. In the final round, Zvezda hosts Bayern, and Madrid welcomes Strasbourg, with all four teams holding a chance to qualify for the Top 16.
History was made by the losing team on Friday in the Croatian capital, where EA7 Emporio Armani Milan defeated Cedevita Zagreb 82-85. Despite the loss, Cedevita claimed a Top 16 berth by taking the tiebreak advantage between the two teams, which ensured it a top four finish. Miro Bilan scored 23 points and dished 6 assists to pace Cedevita, while Marko Arapovic played a big role in the third quarter and finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Robbie Hummel led Milan with 21 points and 8 rebounds. In games on Thursday, Olympiacos Piraeus cruised to a 67-76 road win at Limoges CSP, improving to 8-1 and clinching first place in the standings. Olympiacos pulled away from the already-eliminated hosts early on, opened a double-digit margin in the second quarter, then ran away and broke the game open late in the third as Georgios Printezis paced the Reds with 13 points. Anadolu Efes Istanbul rallied past Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz 95-86, taking over second place in Group B with one game left. Down 72-77 midway through the final quarter, Thomas Heurtel led Efes on a late 10-0 run, paving the way to victory. Heurtel had 25 points and 9 assists for the winners, putting him 2 assists away from 500 for his Euroleague career, something only 17 players have done before. Efes also got 12 points from Dario Saric, overcoming Laboral's 14-for-27 three-point accuracy.
Panathinaikos Athens soared into the Top 16 as the last team qualified from Group C and avenged an earlier defeat by blasting Stelmet Zielona Gora 82-51 at home in the Greek capital on Friday. With its third consecutive victory, Panathinaikos raised its Group C record to 5-4, good for a third-place tie with Zalgiris Kaunas, its opponent in the regular season's final game next week. Panathinaikos got 18 points and 7 assists from Nick Calathes, while James Gist scored 14 more and the defense held Zielona Gora to 28 points after the first quarter. In games on Thursday, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar took care of Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir 78-88 on the road. Lokomotiv took the lead for good in the first quarter, and had a 43-50 cushion at halftime before Evgeny Voronov and Kyrylo Fesenko fueled a 0-13 third-quarter run that broke the game open. Karsiyaka never came closer than 8 points the rest of the way. Ryan Broekhoff paced the winners with 26 points on 7-of-10 three-point shots – both representing club records in the competition, while Fesenko added 17 points in victory. In a showdown of Top 16-bound teams, Zalgiris Kaunas shocked FC Barcelona Lassa 88-92. Barcelona had defeated Zalgiris in each of their last 14 meetings. The visitors held the advantage for most of the night, and kept a slim lead throughout the fourth quarter. Barcelona’s Ante Tomic had 28 points on 11-of-11 two-point shots, but it was not enough as Paulius Jankunas scored 17 points for the visitors, including 6 free throws in crunch time to seal a valuable road win and improve to 5-4. Barcelona dropped to 6-3, and will face Lokomotiv in a direct battle for first place next week.
On Friday, CSKA Moscow blew out Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 94-66 for its fourth consecutive win to improve to 8-1 atop of the group. CSKA led 51-41 at halftime, before putting on a display in the third quarter, allowing only 7 points while scoring 29 behind Milos Teodosic, Joel Freeland and Vitaly Fridzon. Nando De Colo had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for CSKA, while big man Freeland had 11 points and 6 rebounds in his first game of the season. Darussafaka dropped to 4-5 in the fourth place, a game ahead of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, which topped already-qualified Brose Baskets Bamberg 85-65 to stay alive in Top 16 race. Maccabi tied a club record with 16 three-pointers and now heads into a direct showdown for fourth place against Darussafaka next week. Maccabi needs to win by more than 11 points to reach the Top 16, any other score sends Darussafaka through. Against Bamberg, Sylven Landesberg triples gave the home team an early double-digit lead and Trevor Mbakwe boosted the difference to 18 in the second quarter. Bamberg did close the gap, but the hosts continued to fire in threes in the third quarter and cruised to victory. Landesberg finished with 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting for the winners, while Taylor Rochestie tallied 16 points and 7 assists. Unicaja Malaga beat Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 65-77. Jamar Smith led the way for Unicaja with 20 points and Richard Hendrix added 16 points and 7 rebounds as Unicaja improved to 7-2. Unicaja built a 39-48 lead at halftime and the advantage grew to 18 points late in third quarter. In Round 10, in a winner-takes-all road clash, Unicaja Malaga hosts CSKA for the first place in the group.
A lot of drama is expected everywhere, with many do-or-die showdowns all over the place. Make sure you follow all the action on Euroleague TV, on our Twitter account - @Euroleague - and of course, right here on Euroleague.net!