With Top16 Round-6 matches played out this week, two teams in each Group are now tied at the top spot. This season’s only undefeated team until Round-5, CSKA Moscow suffered their first loss against Olympiacos Piraeus in an away game. CSKA will now share the summit with the Greek Club in Group F. The same situation also exists in Group E, where the top place is shared jointly by Real Madrid and Maccabi Electra. The Round-6 brought terrific excitement to viewers in different venues as results in four out of eight games on Thursday and Friday could not be known until the very last moments. There were great moments of brilliant individual efforts and impeccable defense in some matches. The brief stories on the matches are as follows.
In the first match of Round-6, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv took on Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul on Thursday February 5, 2015. Galatasaray pushed the visitors hard until the third quarter to lead 83-73. Egged on by home supporters, Galatasaray looked like shocking the reigning champions but Maccabi’s Devin Smith played brilliantly to convert the 10-point deficit into a fourth quarter lead. With 4 seconds left in regulation time, Zoran Erceg’s free throws brought Galatasaray back into the match by forcing overtime. It was 85-85, when overtime play resumed. The match continued neck-to-neck until Jeremy Pargo came up with a breathtaking triple just as the buzzer went off. It was an exciting 97-94 win for Maccabi, in which Smith scored 24 and Pargo’s contribution was 17. Erceg scored 29 for Galatasaray, who played without their starting point guard Carlos Arroyo.
In the clash of two Spanish basketball giants at BarclayCard Center, Real Madrid played with FC Barcelona. But the match did not live to its billing of the Game of the Week as Real Madrid crushed their arch-rivals 97-73. With this victory, Real and Maccabi are now joint leaders in Group E. For Real, Sergio Rodriguez top scored with 23 points, including 6 assists and 3 steals. Rudy Fernandez had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals and Felipe Reyes added 14. For Barcelona, Mario Hezonja scored 22 of which 20 came in second half alone.
Crvena Zveda Telekom Belgrade met visitors Zalgiris Kaunas for the first time in 21st century. But the home team lost narrowly though the 70-68 victory came about through a costly miss by home team’s Marcus Williams, who failed to convert a three-pointer at the buzzer. That would have turned the tables on Zalgiris but Williams’ potential game-winning effort went in vain. For visitors, James Anderson finished with 22 points while Boban Marjanovic was the dominant scorer for the home side with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
In the last Group E game, the contest between Panathinaikos Athens and ALBA Berlin turned out to be a see-saw battle with the game swinging from one side to another. ALBA had a hefty 41-31 lead midway through the third quarter but they missed some vital free throws. With Panathinaikos coming up with a 4-20 run, they went past ALBA eventually. For visitors, Antonis Fotsis scored back-to-back corner three-pointers to reverse the trend and Panathinaikos surged to a 61-50 lead. Later however, ALBA rallied to reduce the deficit and in the final minute, they were 62-59. They had their chances but couldn’t make the last-minute difference. For Panathinaikos, Loukas Mavrokefalidis top-scored with 11 points, while Dimitris Diamantidis and Vlantimir Giankovits scored 10 each.
There was only one Group F game on Thursday but that brought about CSKA Moscow’s first loss in Top 16. The Russian club lost 76-84 to Olympiacos Piraeus in Athens. After their 17-11 lead in the first quarter, CSKA gave in to the Greek club’s offensive play in the rest of the match. Vassilis Spanoulis led the winners with 19 points, Matt Lojeski added another 13, Othello Hunter scored 12 and Georgios Printezis 10. For Olympiacos, Bryant Dunston came up with 11 rebounds. For CSKA, Milos Teodosic scored 20, De Colo added 13, Kyle Hines had 12 and Vitaly Fridzon 10.
The second Group F match between Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul and Laboral Kutxa Vitora at Istanbul was another close game that Fenerbahce managed to win 91-90 in the closing seconds. Fenerbahce’s victory was largely attributed to a shining performance from Nemanja Bjelica, who scored the go-ahead free throws with 13 seconds left and then came up with the final rebound to seal victory. Bjelica finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks for Fenerbahce. The unlucky Laboral had 2 shots to win with seconds left but Mike James and Davis Bertans both missed. For Fenerbahce, Andrew Goudelock was the top scorer with 19 points.
In another exciting match, Unicaja Malaga scored their first Top 16 win by beating Nizhny Novgorod 85-76 at home. Scores were tied 66-66 in the fourth quarter, but Unicaja improved its defense and didn’t allow Nizhny to score for more than six minutes, while Fran Vazquez and Granger combined very well for an 8-0 run that sealed the victory. Jayson Granger top-scored with a career-high 29 points and 5 assists, while Caleb Green added 16 and 8 rebounds. For Nizhny, Trey Thompkins scored 27 points while Rochestie Taylor added another 24.
The last Group F game was a wildly swinging game that finally went to the wire. Playing an away game, Anadolu Efes Istanbul edged out EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 73-71. All through the 40-minute period, two teams traded the lead and the biggest difference was Efes’ lead of 19-13 early on. There were theatrics in the last two minutes. Milko Bjelica secured the last lead for Efes before Thomas Heurtel and Stratos Perperoglou consolidated with vital points as the buzzer went off. Perperoglou scored 18 points and Bjelica 15. For Milan, Daniel Hackett and MarShon Brooks each scored 18 points.
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