Regular Season, Round 9: One game to go, four Top 16 spots still open!
The penultimate week of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season sent three more teams to the Top 16 - Olympiacos Piraeus BC, Galatasaray Medical Park and Unicaja - while undefeated CSKA Moscow clinched first place in Group B, as did Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Regal in Groups C and D, respectively. And there will be drama, excitement and tears in Week 10 with four Top 16 spots still up for grabs. Group A goes to the wire with three teams still fighting for two Top 16 spots and everything still up in the air. On Wednesday Caja Laboral walloped SLUC Nancy 90-55 to improve its chances of advancing. Mirza Teletovic scored all of his 22 points in the first half – outscoring the entire Nancy team by 1 – as the hosts took charge early and never let up. In Thursday’s games, first Gescrap BB stopped Fenerbahce Ulker 70-80 on the road in Istanbul. D’Or Fischer dominated inside with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. The men in black led by 11 at halftime, scored the first 8 points of the third quarter and never looked back. Then Olympiacos mauled Bennet Cantu 86-61 behind 22 points and 5 assists from All-Euroleague guard Vassilis Spanoulis to stake their spot in the Top 16. Cantu, Caja Laboral, Olympiacos and FB Ulker are tied with 5-4 records, while Gescrap is at 4-5. Cantu was already qualified and Olympiacos did so Thursday because all potential ties at the end of the regular season favor them. Wednesday started in the Russian capital, where CSKA Moscow beat Panathinaikos 91-75 to improve to 9-0 and lock up first place in Group B. Nenad Krstic posted a double-double to lead CSKA, which broke away with a 14-0 third-quarter run. Later in the same group, Unicaja bested KK Zagreb 67-72 in the Croatian capital to secure one of the top four spots in the group and with it a ticket to the Top 16. Big men Joel Freeland and Luka Zoric combined for 33 points and 16 rebounds to pace the winners. Zalgiris stunned Brose Baskets 68-82 on the road Thursday to create a three-way race for the last Top 16 berth from Group B. Paulius Jankunas posted a double-double to help the Lithuanian champs, who control their own destiny and will advance with a home win over KK Zagreb next week. Two games Wednesday in Group C set up a do-or-die thriller next week. Real Madrid rolled Partizan mt:s 101-83 as Jaycee “Boom Boom” Carroll drilled 22 points and Week 8 bwin MVP Nikola Mirotic added 21. And EA7 Emporio Armani Milano routed Belgacom Spirou 88-53 led by Leon Radosevic’s 27 points and an Ioannis Bouroussis double-double. Then Maccabi Electra thrashed Anadolu Efes 96-57 Thursday in Tel Aviv led by David Blu’s 18 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting. Maccabi’s win sealed the top three spots in the group for Madrid, Maccabi and Efes – in that order. And next week Partizan hosts Milano in a Game of the Week showdown for Group C’s final Top 16 ticket. Galatasaray Medical Park blasted Union Olimpija 80-59 led by Jaka Lakovic’s 16 points to punch its ticket to the Top 16. It became the fourth team to advance from Group D and accordingly eliminated Olimpija from contention. Montepaschi Siena rallied past FC Barcelona Regal 77-74 to hand the visitors their first defeat of the season. Igor Rakocevic scored 21 to lead the Italian champs, who trailed by 15 early in the fourth quarter before roaring back. The result still allowed Barca to clinch the top spot in Group D and for Siena to secure second. And Unics Kazan dominated Asseco Prokom 68-41 and set a defensive record for fewest points allowed in one half of a regular season game by holding the visitors to 11 points in the first 20 minutes. Henry Domercant fueled the winners with 18 points and 8 rebounds.