Regular Season, Round 14: Plenty drama despite few changes
Considering the level of intensity and passion put on the floor in Week 14, the last of the regular season, it was hard to believe at its conclusion - especially after an amazing eight games were won by road teams - that only two teams changed places within any of the three groups. That's not to say there weren't big winners, however. Biggest of all were new Group B king Lietuvos Rytas and would-be Final Four hostReal Madrid, which also became a first seed in Monday's Top 16 Draw by finishing with the best second-place record across all groups. L. Rytas rallied to defeat Cibona 79-86 on the road as Kenan Bajramovic scored 19 points while replacing the injured Matt Nielsen as a starter. In Group C, Madrid outlasted Panathinaikos 95-87 thanks to Louis Bullock's 3 consecutive triples late in OT. The only change in the standings came in Group C, too, asPartizan stopped Fenerbahce 86-91 on Nikola Pekovic's 20-point, 10-rebound show to move into fifth place ahead of Roma, a 67-74 home loser to Roanne. Mathematically, Partizan had not qualified before this week's action, but took the opportunity of another game to move up. Everything else in all three groups stayed the same, but it wasn't for lack of trying by lower-placed teams - many of them already qualified for the Top 16 - to move up. Group A already belonged to CSKA, which topped VidiVici 68-92 away in Bologna, Italy, thus finishing tied with Panathinaikos for the regular season's best record. Other teams clinging to second place were Group A's Montepaschi, which beat Olympiacos 73-80 in Athens, and Group B'sMaccabi Elite, a 94-101 OT winner at Aris TT Bank in Thessaoliniki. Holding onto third place against direct challengers were Tau, which beat Zalgiris 84-66 in Group A, andUnicaja, which stopped Efes Pilsen 87-77 in Group B. The regular season is over. The Top 16 Draw comes on Monday in Madrid, so expect the intensity level to rise even higher very soon!