Regular Season, Round 10: Panathinaikos, CSKA, Barcelona, Unicaja, L.Rytas in the Top 16!
The first week of Euroleague games in 2008 brought the first teams to qualify for the Top 16 with four games to go in the regular season, as well as an impressing milestone from a well-rounded rebounding machine. CSKA Moscow, AXA FC Barcelona, Unicaja, Lietuvos Rytas and Panathinaikos already made it to the next round in all three groups. CSKA overcame a slow start to down Union Olimpija 74-57 behind 25 points and 8 rebounds from David Andersen. Just as usual, CSKA improved its defense after the break and managed to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer to get its 22nd consecutive Euroleague home win at the Universal Sports Hall, also taking revenge from its buzzer-beating road loss against Olimpija earlier this season. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos held off a wild Partizan Igokea rally to register a 67-66 home win and advance to the Top 16. Sarunas Jasikevicius paced the winners with 17 points and despite being outrebounded by 23-46, the Greens managed to get an important win. AXA FC Barcelona survived a tough test and made it to the next round by downing Chorale Roanne 79-89 on the road behind 17 points and 13 rebounds from Jordi Trias. Last but not least, Unicaja thrashed Armani Jeans Milano in Malaga, Spain, to move up to 8-2 in competitive Group B and reach the next round. Berni Rodriguez led the way for Unicaja with 16 points, as the hosts used a 13-0 run in the third quarter to break the game open. Lietuvos Rytas also joined the Top 16 in Group B by simply overwhelming Le Mans 85-50 in Vilnius behind 20 points from Matt Nielsen. L. Rytas led 48-26 at halftime and never looked back. Elsewhere in Roma, Mirsad Turkcan of Fenerbahce Ulker became the first player to surpass the 1,000-rebound barrier in Euroleague history by pulling 13 in his team's impressing 63-84 road win against Lottomatica in Group C. Will Solomon led Fener with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Also in Group C, Real Madrid is all but mathematically into the Top 16 by thrashing Brose Baskets 93-57 in the Spanish capital on Thursday. Madrid fired in 17 three-pointers, just one shy of the all-time record. It belongs to Lottomatica Roma, that buried 18 three-pointers in a 106-100 road win against Pau-Orthez on December 18, 2003. Louis Bullock sank 6-for-7 triples o his way to 20 points. Meanwhile, Maccabi Elite sent a message that echoed all around Group B by thrashing Efes Pilsen 68-83 in Istanbul. Terence Morris led Maccabi with a huge double-double of 16 points and 19 rebounds. Scoonie Penn led Efes with a Euroleague career-high 30 points and 6 assists. Also in Group B, Aris TT Bank took a crucial step forwards to reach the Top 16 by edging Cibona 76-83 on Thursday behind 20 points on 8-for-12 two-pointers from Jeremiah Massey. Zalgiris took another step forwards to make it to the next round in Group A by edging mighty Montepaschi Siena 75-69 in Kaunas. Marko Popovic led the winners with 15 points off the bench. Another team that is about to clinch a Top 16 spot in Tau Ceramica, that simply overwhelmed Prokom Trefl Sopot 98-74. Will McDonald led 5 Tau players in double digits with 19 points. Tau needs to win another game or wait for Union Olimpija to lose to reach the Top 16. Olympiacos improved to 6-4 by downing Virtus VidiVici 80-91 in Bologna on Thursday. A recovered Lynn Greer led the Reds with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists.