The playoffs race in Turkish Airlines Euro-league Basketball has reached a point, from where just two Group F teams can make it to the last eight. There is no confusion in Group E, where four teams have already qualified and it is merely a question of who will finish second behind Fenerbahce Istanbul. In Group F however, there are five teams and all of them have their chances depending on various factors. One of them is 2015 champions Real Madrid, who play at home against Khimki Moscow next Thursday in a do-or-die battle for both teams. A loss for either team will result in straightforward elimination. But Madrid face elimination even in victory if Zalgiris, Laboral and Olympiacos all win their matches. After Round-13 games, Panathinaikos Athens and Crvena Zvezda entered the playoff phase, when Anadolu Efes Istanbul lost to Fenerbahce. A brief Round-13 action report follows hereunder.
No mysteries remain here as all 4 playoffs spots were decided. In the Istanbul Derby, Fenerbahce defeated Anadolu Efes 90-86 and sent Anadolu packing out of this year’s Euro-league. Anadolu’s loss also resulted in playoff qualifications for Panathinaikos Athens and Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade. The high point of Fenerbahce-Anadolu game was provided by a tussle in the last 3½ minutes, when Fenerbahce led by 18 points and suddenly a charged-up Anadolu rallied to bring the score to 88-86. However for Fenerbahce, Datome’s free throws at buzzer ensured victory for them. Datome finished with 24 points and Bogdanovic added 21.
Before the match between Panathinaikos and Cedevita Zagreb at Athens, Triple champion Dimitris Diamantidis was honored as a Euro-league Basketball Legend. Making full use of playing at home, Panathinaikos scored a 76-60 win over Cedevita. Panathinaikos began with a 20-5 first quarter lead and enhanced it to 40-19 at halftime. By third quarter, the home team led 53-24 but Cedevita briefly found their foothold with a 25-5 charge to reduce the margin. However, Diamantidis and Antonis Fotsis scored from three-pointers late in fourth quarter to seal victory for Panathinaikos. James Gist top-scored for Panathinaikos with 15 points and 9 rebounds and Diamantidis added 10 with 6 rebounds and 3 assists to celebrate his legendary status. Panathinaikos have a chance to finish second behind Fenerbahce if they could beat already eliminated Anadolu Efes next week. But for that to happen, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar should lose to Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul.
On Thursday, Lokomotiv defeated Unicaja Malaga 81-60 and if they could beat Darussafaka Dogus next week, they will finish second in Group E. If not, a loss for Panathinaikos can also hoist Lokomotiv to second spot. Against Unicaja, Lokomotiv led for most part, despite some challenge by Unicaja. Matt Janning and Malcolm Delaney scored 15 points apiece with Delaney also providing 10 assists.
The other qualified Group E team, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade lost 61-80 against Darussafaka Dogus but Anadolu’s loss still sent them into playoffs. Despite home advantage, Crvena couldn’t stop Darussafaka from winning with a hefty margin. Darussafaka led 34-35 at halftime but the teams traded leads in third quarter. However, Unicaja’s Jamon Gordon, Scottie Wilbekin and Milko Bjelica came up with 23-4 fourth quarter run that ensured an easy victory.
The match between Laboral Kutxa Vitoria and defending champions Real Madrid went to the limits of thrills before Laboral edged out the visitors 89-88. The last second victory for Laboral came from Davis Bertans’ turnaround triple. For Laboral, Mike James scored 27 points while Ioannis Bourousis added 25 with 10 rebounds. Real Madrid have pushed themselves in a spot and even their victory over Khimki Moscow Region next week may not be enough. They could go out of contention if Laboral, Olympiacos Piraeus and Zalgiris Kaunas win their matches.
Playing at home, Khimki thrashed Olympiacos Piraeus 98-66. But if Khimki lose to Madrid next week, they will not qualify. On Thursday, Khimki played a perfect game against Olympiacos and scored from 14 out of 29 three-point shots. For Khimki, Alexey Shved top-scored with 19 points and James Augustine added another 18 with 10 rebounds. Now Olympiacos’ playoff chances no longer depend on their own performance but will be dictated by results of next week’s other matches.
Already qualified CSKA Moscow beat Zalgiris Kaunas 100-86, after trailing 47-48 at halftime. CSKA can top the Group if they could beat Olympiacos next week or if Laboral loses to Bamberg. Against Zalgiris, CSKA rallied in second half and like many times in past, Nando De Colo played a stellar role with 26 points and 7 rebounds. Milos Teodosic added another 15.
FC Barcelona Lassa scored an emphatic 75-57 win over Brose Baskets Bamberg to improve their playoff chances. Next week, if Barcelona lose to Zalgiris, they go out of contention. Bamberg’s qualification chances rest on their victory over Laboral Kutxa next week coupled with wins by Olympiacos and Zalgiris. On Thursday, Barcelona played with authority beginning with a 10-0 first-quarter run followed by a 16-2 second-quarter charge. Alex Abrines was the top scorer for Barcelona with 13 points while Ante Tomic and Justin Doellman added 12 each.
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