Round 22: Playoff races heat up
Friday night saw Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul became the first team to qualify for the playoffs with a thumping home win over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. CSKA Moscow claimed second place with a narrow victory over fellow giant Real Madrid, and KIROLEBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz earned a vital triumph – and head to head advantage – over FC Bayern Munich. This week’s action also saw AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, FC Barcelona Lassa and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv strengthen their playoffs challenges with home wins.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 93-74 Herbalife Gran Canaria
Anadolu Efes got back to its winning ways by downing visiting Gran Canaria 93-74 at Sinan Erdem Dome on Thursday night in Istanbul. Efes improved to 14-8 to remain in fourth place in the standings, while Gran Canaria dropped to 6-16. The hosts took the lead for good early in the third quarter with a 15-2 run and then opened a double-digit lead at the start of the fourth from which they never looked back. Krunoslav Simon paced Efes with a career-high 25 points, along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Shane Larkin added 18 points in victory. Clevin Hannah netted 16 for Gran Canaria.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 90-98 Khimki Moscow Region
Khimki re-injected its name in the playoffs race by out-gunning host Buducnost 90-98 in the Montenegrin capital on Thursday. Khimki's record improved to 9-13 with its second consecutive victory and is just one win off the pace of eighth place at the moment. Buducnost saw its three-game home winning streak snapped and fell to 6-15. Khimki got an inspired performance from Jordan Mickey, who finished with 25 points in just over 19 minutes. He led five visiting scorers in double digits. Norris Cole sprung to life in the second quarter and landed a double-double with 20 points and 11 assists for Buducnosts. After constant ties and lead changes in the second half, Buducnost led 88-87 entering the final minute, but Stefan Markovic's three-pointer and a three-point play by Mickey spelled the difference for Khimki.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 65-64 Olympiacos Piraeus
In a thriller that came down to the final shot, Maccabi recorded its sixth consecutive home win by edging Olympiacos 65-64 at Menorah Mivtachim Arena on Thursday. Maccabi improved to 10-12 to remain within striking distance of the playoff zone from 10th place, while Olympiacos dropped to 12-10 and sixth overall. Tarik Black led the winners with a season-high 19 points plus 7 rebounds and Scottie Wilbekin added 17 – including the go-ahead jumper with 4.4 seconds left. Nigel Williams-Goss and Vassilis Spanoulis paced Olympiacos with 16 points apiece. It was a hard-fought battle that came down to the final seconds, in which Wilbekin attacked Nikola Milutinov off a pick-and-roll switch and hit the game-winning shot. Olympiacos had a final chance, but Georgios Printezis missed a key shot.
FC Barcelona Lassa 78-72 Zalgiris Kaunas
Barcelona continued its winning ways with a hard-fought 78-72 win over visiting Zalgiris at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday night. With a win in this intense battle, Barcelona improved to 12-9 to take sole possession of fifth place in the standings. Adam Hanga had the clutch play late in the game and finished with 14 points to lead Barcelona. Kevin Seraphin added 12 points plus 6 rebounds in victory. Arturas Milaknis netted 17 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting and Nate Wolters contributed 15 points and 7 assists for Zalgiris which dropped to 8-14.
CSKA Moscow 82-78 Real Madrid
In a hard-fought battle between true Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouses, CSKA Moscow recorded its fourth consecutive Regular Season win by topping Real Madrid 82-78 in the Russian capital on Friday. Both teams now have a 17-5 record in the standings but CSKA ranks 2nd - and Madrid 3rd - due to its 2-0 record against Los Blancos. Nando De Colo led the winners with 21 points. Cory Higgins, returning from injury, added 15 while Daniel Hackett had 14. Anthony Randolph led Madrid with 20 points. Gustavo Ayon added 11 while Facu Campazzo had 10 for the guests, which led 66-68 with over 6 minutes left before Higgins, De Colo and Will Clyburn made sure CSKA claimed an important win.
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 85-66 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul became the first team to secure playoffs qualification with a comprehensive 85-66 home victory over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Friday night. The Turkish team raced away with the game in the second quarter and never looked back, ensuring a post-season berth in impressive fashion. Fenerbahce’s Italian duo did much of the damage, as Nicolo Melli scored 14 points while Gigi Datome added 12, with both players only missing one shot. Marko Guduric also scored 12 points, and Erick Green netted all 12 of his points in the final quarter. Sean Kilpatrick paced Panathinaikos, which has now lost nine consecutive away games, with 19 points, and DeShaun Thomas added 13.
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 76-68 FC Bayern Munich
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz registered a huge 76-68 win over visiting FC Bayern Munich at Fernando Buesa Arena on Friday night. Both teams now hold 11-11 records, seventh best in the EuroLeague, but Baskonia holds the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker after overcoming a 6-point loss to Bayern from Round 4. Baskonia never trailed after halftime, but did not have a double-digit margin until an 8-0 run opened a 72-62 lead with 2 and a half minutes left, and the home team took the tiebreaker with a buzzer-beating put-back by Vincent Poirier right at the end. The big man finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Matt Janning led all Baskonia scorers with 13 points. Derrick Williams led Bayern with 18 points, and Danilo Barthel finished with 11 in the losing effort.
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 90-78 Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan grabbed its third consecutive win by topping Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul 90-78 at Mediolanum Forum on Friday. Milan improved to 11-11 and remained in 8th place. Darussafaka dropped to 3-19 and is at the bottom of the standings. Mindaugas Kuzminskas led the winners with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Mike James added 18 points, Curtis Jerrells had 16, Vladimir Micov got 11 and James Nunnally 10 for Milan. Toney Douglas led Darussafaka with 21 points. Kartal Ozmizrak added 11 while Michael Eric had 10 for the guests, which led 60-61 after three quarters. Kuzminskas, Nunnally and Jerrells took over in the fourth quarter, leading Milan to a hard-fought win.