Regular Season, Round 10: Nizhny, Zalgiris, Galatasaray advance!
The last three placed in the Top 16 and the distribution of groups in the next round were decided in Round 10, the final one of the regular season. CSKA Moscow finished as the only perfect team so far, while rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona claimed first place in their groups and so will meet up in the Top 16. But the big winners in Round 10 were Galatasara Liv Hospital Istanbul, which took the last Top 16 place from Group D, while Nizhny Novgorod and Zalgiris Kaunas both rallied for the last two in Group A on Friday for a dramatic finish to the regular season!
Nizhny Novgorod and Zalgiris Kaunas survived do-or-die tests that came down to the final minute to advance to the Top 16. Nizhny Novgorod rallied past Unics Kazan 78-74 at home. Tarence Kinsey paced the winners with 23 points. Kinsey’s three-point play put Nizhny ahead for good, 61-60. Evgeny Baburin struck from downtown and Dmitry Khvostov beat the shot clock with a nine-meter prayer that boosted the hosts' lead to 69-63. Free throw accuracy allowed Nizhny to seal a truly historic win. James Anderson’s three-point play with 2.5 seconds left capped a late comeback as Zalgiris Kaunas edged Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 80-79. Anderson starred through the game and finished with 26 points for the Lithuanian champs, who improved to 5-5 and finished third in Group A. The visitors went on a 4-27 second-half charge and took the lead on a Brian Sacchetti three early in the fourth quarter. It was 68-77 with three minutes left, but Anderson took over to lead a late charge and Sassari’s by Cheick Mbodj made only 2 of 4 free throws in the final 40 seconds to leave the door open for Anderson. In a do-or-die battle for first place in Group A, Real Madrid beat Anadolu Efes Istanbul 90-70 behind a 17-1 run that Jaycee Carroll and Ioannis Bourousis fueled in the third quarter. Madrid pulled away and never looked back, clinching the first place as Bourousis led six Madrid scorers in double digits with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Rudy Fernandez added 17 points for the winners. Dario Saric led second place Efes with a great all-around game - 11 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists.
CSKA Moscow crushed Limoges CSP 88-56 to complete its perfect regular season and remain the competition’s lone unbeaten team with a 10-0 record. CSKA hit 14 three-pointers and never trailed despite playing without Sonny Weems and Milos Teodosic. Vitaly Fridzon finished with 19 points, and Andrey Vorontsevich collected 12 points and 7 rebounds in victory. Also on Thursday, Devin Smith came up with a sterling performance with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 big three-pointers late in the fourth quarter as second-place Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv claimed a hard-fought 81-73 victory over Unicaja Malaga. Smith hit a pair of threes during an 8-0 run that put Maccabi up 77-67 with 2 minutes to play. It was the third win in a row for the reigning champs, and the fourth consecutive defeat for Unicaja, which dropped to 4-6 but still finished in third place after previously-eliminated Cedevita Zagreb rallied to stun ALBA Berlin 67-70 in the German capital on Friday. Cedevita came back from 13 points down with a 2-18 run that bridged third and fourth quarters, then used a 2-10 spurt late in the fourth to deny ALBA the third place in the group. Miro Bilan had 12 points and 6 boards in victory.
Getting back to its winning ways, FC Barcelona stormed past Panathinaikos Athens 67-80 and clinched first place to finish the regular season with the competition’s second-best record, 9-1. Barcelona allowed only 23 first-half points and took a 17-point lead into halftime. After halftime, Panathinaikos erased most of the deficit. However, with Marcelinho Huertas orchestrating the offense with 17 points and 9 assists, Barcelona never relinquished the lead and cruised to victory as Maciej Lampe contributed with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Antonis Fotsis had 14 points for the Greens who played without team leader Dimitris Diamantidis. Second-place Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul downed FC Bayern Munich 87-81, to extend its winning streak to six games. Fenerbahce controlled the game for majority of the night, as Bogdan Bogdanovic led the winners with 16 points and Oguz Savas added 15. On Thursday, Linas Kleiza hit club record 8 three-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points, leading fourth place EA7 Emporio Armani Milan past PGE Turow Zgorzelec 96-101. The teams combined for 27 three-pointers, with Milan hitting 14 of 25 and Kleiza missing his first 4 three-point shots before making 8 in a row – 2 in the second and 6 in the third quarter. Milan built a 42-55 margin in the third quarter, and after Turow rallied to take the lead, MarShon Brooks and Alessandro Gentile made plays down the stretch to hold off the hosts. Damian Kulig led Turow with 23 points plus 8 rebounds in defeat.
In an epic game that went down to the wire, Galatasaray Liv Hospital beat Olympiacos Piraeus 79-74 to clinch a berth in the Top 16. Galatasaray, which used only seven players in the must-win games, was aided by another result in Spain, where Valencia Basket walloped Neptunas Klaipeda 103-65. Those results left Galatasaray and Neptunas with identical 4-6 records, but Galatasaray advanced and Neptunas was eliminated by a tiebreaker. Carlos Arroyo paced the Galatasaray with 24 points and Patric Young added 13 and 13 rebounds. Valencia’s victory was its biggest ever in the Euroleague. It dominated from the start with the trio of big men Luke Harangody, Kreso Loncar and Bojan Dubljevic doing much of the damage in a 52-31 first half from which Neptunas never recovered. Harangody led seven Valencia scorers in double figures with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Dubljevic finished with 19 points in 19 minutes and Loncar scored 15. On Friday, in a direct battle for second place, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade topped Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 90-82. Marcus Williams led the winners with 23 points and 8 assists while Boban Marjanovic had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Zvezda which took the lead for good with a 12-2 third quarter run, and then scored 7 unanswered point to go up 77-68 in the fourth and never looked back.
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