Euro-League Basketball: Race to Madrid Heating Up as Only 4 Berths Remain After Top 16 Round 11

Euro-League BasketballIn Top16 Round 11, five games were played on Thursday March 19 and another three on March 20. The week ended with two more play-off tickets being confirmed after Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow qualified last week. On March 19, FC Barcelona claimed the third play-off berth while on March 20; Fenerbahce Ulker also marched into the play-offs. A better picture will emerge, when Round-12 matches are completed this week. Of individual front, Fenerbahce’s Bogdan Bogdanovic stole the limelight in his team’s victory over EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. Bogdanovic scored 25 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and ended up with 6 out of 6 shots from foul line. Bogdanovic’s memorable performance led to a performance index rating, PIR of 32. Already the reigning Euroleague Rising Star award winner, Bogdanovic also bagged his first bwin MVP of the week. But last week’s top PIR belonged to Crvena Zvezda Telekom’s Boban Marjanovic, who torched 35 in his team’s 73-77 loss against FC Barcelona. Already, Marjanovic leads Euroleague PIR with an average of 24.8 per game this season. CSKA Moscow’s Nando De Colo was the next best performer with a PIR of 31. To round up other individual performers; CSKA’s Milos Teodosic, Panathinaikos’ Nikos Pappas and Fenerbahce’s Nemanja Bjelica, each with PIRs of 30. A Group-wise summary of last week’s matches follows.

 

Group E

FC Barcelona scored a road victory over Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 77-73 in a tight finish at Belgrade. The day coincided with Barcelona winning their first European trophy 30 years ago in 1985 Cup Winners’ Cup. But Barcelona had to wait for the result of the match between Maccabi Electra vs. Zalgiris Kaunas and when Maccabi won that match, Barcelona’s place for the play-off was confirmed. Barcelona-Crvena Zvezda match was full of drama with fortunes fluctuating throughout. Both teams held promising leads with Crvena Zvezda Telekom entering fourth quarter with a 50-48 lead. But Stefan Jovic’s mid-range jumper tied the score at 56-56. Afterwards, Juan Carlos Navarro led an 8-0 run that almost sealed Barcelona’s victory. Though, Zvezda came close yet again to make it 68-67, Navarro and Ante Tomic combined in the last minute for a 73-67 lead. Crvena made a last-ditch try with Blazic hitting back-to-back three-pointers but free throws by Justin Doellman and Satoransky allowed Barcelona to escape with a narrow victory. For Barcelona, Navarro led the scoring with 12 points and Tomas Satoransky added 11 and 10 rebounds. For Crvena Zvezda, Boban Marjanovic posted 23 points and 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double of this season.

In Tel Aviv, Maccabi Electra defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 79-72, helped by Jeremy Pargo’s 26 points. This too was a close match, where both sides traded leads at different times. However, with a 12-point fourth quarter lead, Maccabi looked on course. However, Zalgiris prevented Maccabi from scoring in a 6-minute period and drew within 66-60. When Jeremy Pargo charged up with 10 points in last four minutes, he ensured victory for the defending champions. Other lead scorer for Maccabi was Devin Smith with 19 points. For Zalgiris, Arturas Milaknis scored 4 out of 7 three-pointers in his score of 19.

In Berlin, ALBA Berlin scored a 75-68 victory over Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul. ALBA rode on the scintillating performance of Marko Banic, who scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 17 minutes. Reggie Redding scored 10 with 10 assists. For Galatasaray, a run of threes by Ender Arslan brought them within 3 points in closing minutes but a layup by Banic and free throws by Alex Renfroe clinched the win for ALBA.

Panathinaikos Athens outplayed Real Madrid 85-69 and broke Real’s five-game winning streak, though they continue to hold the top spot. For Panathinaikos, Nikos Pappas scored 22 points on perfect shooting from field and 7 of 8 from the line. Pappas dominated the third quarter with 12 points to give a big lead for his team.

Group F

On Thursday, CSKA Moscow defeated Unicaja Malaga 95-77. CSKA had already clinched a play-off spot last week and they played without any worry. For CSKA, Milos Teodosic scored 25 points including 5-out of-7 three-point shoots and provided 8 assists. Nando De Colo added 19 while Sasha Kaun added 16 For Unicaja, Kenan Karahodzic’s layup resulted in a brief 36-34 lead in second quarter but they lost regardless.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated Nizhny Novgorod 79-75 in a game billed as the week’s best and ended Nizhny’s 4-game winning streak. Despite missing top star Nenad Krstic, Efes controlled the first half with a 48-39 lead. Thomas Heurtel, Milko Bjelica and Dario Saric lifted their team and kept the double-digit margin in the second half. A triple from Cedi Osman extended the lead to 75-57 in fourth quarter. Nizhny attempted a late rally but couldn’t come close. Bjelica finished with 15 points, while Osman and Lasme added 13 each. For Nizhny, Artsiom Parakhouski’s 22 points and 7 rebounds went in vain.

Fenerbahce Ulker overwhelmed EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 98-77 and earned a play-off spot. Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 25 points made a decisive difference. Late in the third quarter, the teams were tied at 61-61 and even with six minutes left in the match, Milan trailed only by 6 points but the late charge by hosts widened the victory margin. For Milan, MarShon Brooks scored 21 points with 5 assists.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria beat Olympiacos Piraeus 74-73 in a close encounter. It was a match, where neither team led with a margin bigger than 7 points but finally, Laboral edged out Olympiacos 74-73. The loss denied Olympiacos a play-off spot but they still have a chance in remaining games. With 67 seconds remaining, Davis Bertans scored off a long jumper to tilt the game in Laboral’s favor. For Laboral, James finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. For visitors, Georgios Printezis scored 15 points and 7 rebounds.

 

R K Gupta

R K Gupta

Mr. RK Gupta has been a prolific Kridangan writer on major international sport-events for last two years. Basically a Mechanical Engineer and Administrative Management Post Graduate, Mr. Gupta took to blog-writing as a hobby after his retirement in 2011. He graduated to full-time sports-writing after joining Kridangan.com in 2013. Most of Mr. Gupta’s posts are topical and analytical in nature; completely distinct from usual media reports. His narration on popular sports-events lends uniqueness to the reporting and makes it enjoyable for global sports readership.
R K Gupta

R K Gupta

Mr. RK Gupta has been a prolific Kridangan writer on major international sport-events for last two years. Basically a Mechanical Engineer and Administrative Management Post Graduate, Mr. Gupta took to blog-writing as a hobby after his retirement in 2011. He graduated to full-time sports-writing after joining Kridangan.com in 2013. Most of Mr. Gupta’s posts are topical and analytical in nature; completely distinct from usual media reports. His narration on popular sports-events lends uniqueness to the reporting and makes it enjoyable for global sports readership.

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