Round 20: Big winners from top to bottom
A remarkable Round 20 saw the top three teams in the standings beat the next three while the group of playoffs aspirants in the middle of the pack remained thick. Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Real Madrid help court at home to stay first and second, while CSKA Moscow survived a tough road match to hold third. Their victims – Oympiacos Piraeus, Anadolu Efes Istanbul and FC Barcelona Lassa, respectively – failed to separate themselves from five pursuers who are, at most, three victories behind at the two-thirds mark of the competition. All were reminded that there are no easy games left, either, as end-of-table Buducnost VOLI Podgorica and Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul also won.
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 90-75 Olympiacos Piraeus
Fenerbahce remained undefeated at home this season in the EuroLeague by downing Olympiacos 90-75 in a rematch of the 2017 EuroLeague championship game on Thursday. Fenerbahce improved to 18-2 to keep its spot atop the standings. Olympiacos is fifth with a 12-8 record. Erick Green paced the winners with 17 points, Nikola Kalinic added 16 and Ali Muhammed tallied 13 points and 10 assists for Fenerbahce. Janis Timma led Olympiacos with 14 points. Fenerbahce led 21-15 after 10 minutes, extended its margin to 40-28 at halftime and then again to 68-54 at the end of the third quarter en route to a well-deserved win.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 84-75 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
Maccabi produced an intense performance to overcome Panathinaikos 84-75 on Thursday night for its fourth straight win. The result lifted Maccabi to 9-11, while Panathinaikos lost its seventh in a row on the road to fall to 8-12. The home team led from the second quarter onwards, often by double digits, and Panathinaikos's attempted comeback couldn't get closer than 4 points. Angelo Caloiaro inspired Maccabi with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds and Scottie Wilbekin scored 13. Nick Calathes had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists for Panathinaikos.
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 80-70 Zalgiris Kaunas
AX Milan overpowered Zalgiris down the stretch to claim an 80-70 victory on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Zalgiris led 57-58 with 6 and a half minutes remaining, but back-to-back three-pointers by Dairis Bertans and Mindaugas Kuzminskas gave Milan the lead for good and Mike James scored 9 points and dished 2 assists in the final 5 minutes to lead Milan to victory. The result took Milan's record to 9-11. Zalgiris slipped to 8-12 with the loss. James finished with 20 points, 9 assists and 4 steals to pace the winners and Bertans and Vladimir Micov added 17 points apiece. Nate Wolters produced 17 points and 5 assists for Zalgiris.
Real Madrid 92-84 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Real Madrid stayed strong in the Spanish capital and registered its fifth consecutive win at WiZink Center by topping Anadolu Efes 92-84 on Thursday. Madrid improved to 16-4 and is second in the standings. Efes dropped to 13-7, but kept its hold of fourth place. Anthony Randolph led the winners with 24 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting. Sergio Llull added 19 points plus 8 rebounds, while Edy Tavares had 10 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks for Madrid. Vasilije Micic led Efes with 21 points. The score was tied 21-21 after 10 minutes, 42-42 at halftime and 72-72 midway through the fourth quarter, but Llull stepped up to fuel a 9-0 run that sent Madrid to another win.
Khimki Moscow Region 60-71 FC Bayern Munich
FC Bayern Munich overcame an 18-point deficit to register a 60-71 road win over Khimki Moscow Region on Friday and stay a step ahead of the pack in the playoffs race. Bayern improved to 10-10 on the season to retain seventh place in the standings, while Khimki dropped to 7-13. Derrick Williams led all scorers with 20 points to pace Bayern, which trailed 28-10 after 10 minutes, but used a 0-16 third-quarter run to take the lead for good. Vladimir Lucic scored 15, while all of Nihad Dedovic's 10 points came in the second half. Malcolm Thomas collected 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks for Khimki. Jordan Mickey also scored 13 for the hosts, who played under the guidance of head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis for the first time this season.
Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul 80-75 KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Last-place Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul closed ranks on its home court to claim just its third win of the season, a nail-bitten 80-75 decision over visiting KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday. The hosts raised their record to 3-17 in a great show of pride, while Baskonia fell to 9-11 and now share the eighth and last playoff spot with AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. Toney Douglas paced the winners with 21 points and Michael Eric followed with 18 on 9-for-11 two-point shooting. Baskonia got the same amount from Matt Janning while Johannes Voigtmann had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Down by 21-19 after one quarter, Darussafaka got more aggressive on defense and slowly turned the game in its favor, taking a lead soon after halftime that Baskonia could only reclaim for one possession late in the third quarter.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 75-70 Herbalife Gran Canaria
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica registered its third consecutive win by downing guest Herbalife Gran Canaria 75-70 in the Montenegrin capital on Friday. Both teams now have 6-14 records, but Gran Canaria ranks 14th and Buducnost 15th as the Spanish side won by their first game by a bigger margin of 10 points. Norris Cole led the winners with 20 points. Goga Bitadze added 16 while Edwin Jakcson and Earl Clark each had 10 for Buducnost. Siim-Sander Vene led Gran Canaria with 16 points. Anzejs Pasecniks and Xavi Rabaseda each had 12 for the guests. The game was balanced for 35 minutes but Cole and Bitadze stepped up in crunch time to lead Buducnost to another home win.
FC Barcelona Lassa 76-84 CSKA Moscow
In an entertaining battle with more than 30 lead changes and ties, CSKA Moscow went on the road to beat FC Barcelona Lassa 76-84 on Friday. Nando De Colo scored 25 points on a career-high 7-for-10 shooting from three-point range to lead CSKA to a 15-5 record and solidify its third place in the standings. Nikita Kurbanov contributed 17 points in victory. Meanwhile, Barcelona lost its second straight game and dropped to an 11-9 record in the sixth place. Victor Calver scored 17 points and Kevin Seraphin added 14 for the hosts.