Top 16ound 5: Six rise up to Quarterfinal Playoffs
Two more teams reached the Quarterfinal Playoffs on Thursday, joining the four that did so the night before. However there will still be plenty of drama next week in Top 16, Week 6 as five teams chase the two remaining playoff berths and first place in two groups remains up for grabs. Group G is the only one where everything is settled. First CSKA held off Unicaja 70-76 at the end of Wednesday’s slate of action. CSKA grabbed first place and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, but also secured Asseco Prokom a quarterfinals berth for the first time in club history. Zalgiris beat Prokom 93-88 earlier in the evening as Marcus Brown shined with 23 points to remain alive temporarily, but that was cancelled out by CSKA’s win. Group F also has two quarterfinalists, but they still have to meet to decide first place. Maccabi Electra ran away from Montepaschi Siena 97-82 behind 24 points from freshly crowned Sportingbet MVP of the Month for February Alan Anderson. The Israeli champs also set a Euroleague record with 43 points in the fourth quarter, but still had to wait until Real Madrid edged Efes Pilsen 75-77 to celebrate. Madrid’s win – the first by a visiting team in Group F – means that Maccabi and Madrid meet next week in the Spanish capital to decide first place. Olympiacos claimed first place in Group H on Thursday as the Reds routed Caja Laboral 102-85. Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored a season-high 19 as Olympiacos won its 10th in a row. On Wednesday, Cibona crushed BC Khimki 82-63 to remain alive as Jamont Gordon and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 45 points. Laboral hosts Cibona next week, and Khimki is also in the picture with a potential three-way tie looming. In Group E, Regal Barcelona routed Maroussi 58-85 on Wednesday to punch its ticket to the playoffs. Barca held the hosts to just 3 third-quarter points as it cruised to victory. However Maroussi remained alive after Panathinaikos defeated Partizan 66-82 for its first Top 16 win. Drew Nicholas scored 22 to lead the Greens. Partizan must beat Barcelona next week of hope for Panathinaikos to beat Maroussi. Otherwise Maroussi’s Cinderella story will be told in the playoffs. Perhaps most amazing is that when all is said and done, five games on the Top 16, Week 6 slate will hold the ultimate drama as teams continue to fight for wins on the road to the 2010 Euroleague Final Four in Paris!