It got a lot interesting as the Turkish Airlines Euro-League Top 16 Round 13 matches were concluded. It became clear that last playoff tickets could not be handed out until 14th Round results are available this week. Even among confirmed play-off entrants, the order could not be decided. On individual front, an ALBA Berlin player had been an MVP of the Week in Turkish Airlines Euroleague for more than six years. Now, another ALBA player has earned the same honor in five weeks as Alex Renfroe became Top 16 Round 13 bwin MVP by leading his team to a 68-66 victory over Panathinaikos on Thursday in Athens. Renfroe scored 16 points and 9 assists for a performance index rating of 28, which was the highest ever for Euro-League Top 16 Round 13. Renfroe also collected 4 rebounds and didn’t commit a single turnover in joining team-mate Reggie Redding as ALBA’s second bwin MVP of the Week this season. Redding had claimed the honor for Top 16 Round 9. There was stiff competition for the title as four players registered PIRs of 27. There were two from Unicaja Malaga; Vladimir Golubovic and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Devin Smith of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and Boban Marjanovic of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade. Golubovic missed nothing in tallying 17 points and 9 rebounds; Kuzminskas shot 18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks; Smith came up with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals and Marjanovic set a Euroleague record with his 15th double-double of the season and finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Brief results in two Groups were as follows.
In a battle of arch-rivals, FC Barcelona beat Real Madrid 85-80. With their seventh consecutive win, Barcelona now have the same 10-3 record in Group E. But Madrid still occupies the top spot as they beat FCB by a 24-point margin in their first match. The two sides traded leads and tied on 11 occasions with the last one at 78-78 with less than two minutes remaining. It was here that Barcelona legend Juan Carlos Navarro made the difference with go-ahead free throws and consecutive assists to engineer a thrilling victory for hosts. for FCB, Mario Hezonja top-scored with 15 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting, while Brad Oleson scored 12 from three-pointers alone. For Real, Rudy Fernandez scored 20.
Maccabi Electra defeated Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 81-72 and improved to 8-5 to take the third place behind Real and Barcelona. It was a close game as Galatasaray tied it at 58-58 until early in fourth quarter before Devin Smith came up twice in a 10-0 run that made the decisive difference. Smith finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
In an amazing road win, ALBA Berlin defeated Panathinaikos Athens 68-66. This result kept ALBA in play-off contention and if they beat Maccabi Electra this week, they could clinch the first-time playoff ticket for any team from Germany. If not, Maccabi will go through. ALBA created history as the only German team beating Panathinaikos at Athens. Panathinaikos also have a chance if they win their last match but they missed big against ALBA at home on Thursday. In the last quarter, the Greeks had a 55-46 lead but ALBA’s Reggie Redding, Jamel McLean and Alex Renfroe made key baskets in final stretch to disappoint Panathinaikos.
The match for prestige between already eliminated Zalgiris Kaunas and Crvenza Zvezda Telekom Belgrade ended in Zalgiris’ 76-70 victory. For Zalgiris, Jankunas had 19 points and Cherry 17 while Zvezda’s Boban Marjanovic scored his 15th double-double of the season to break a Euro-league record in that category. Until now, Marjanovic was tied at 14 with Tanoka Beard, who also had 14 double-doubles for Zalgiris in 2004-05 season.
CSKA Moscow are favorites to top Group F after their 76-70 home victory over Olympiacos Pireus. CSKA stand at 11-2 overall and they will be first if they could beat EA7 Emporio Armani Milan in their last game. They could also be group toppers if Anadolu Efes beats Fenerbahce Ulker in the Istanbul derby. However, Olympiacos dropped to 9-4 and they are locked into third place. If Fenerbahce wins and CSKA loses, Fenerbahce will be first and CSKA second. Against Olympiacos Pireus, Sasha Kaun and Sonny Weems scored 16 points each with Milos Teodosic adding 14 and 7 assists. For Olympiacos Pireus, Matt Lojeski and Georgios Printezis also scored 16 each in a game that remained close until the end of third quarter. Though Lojeski scored 12 points in the fourth for Olympiacos, Teodosic and Weems stepped up in crunch time to lead CSKA to a critical win.
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria scored a shock 93-76 victory over Fenerbahce Ulker on Thursday. This ended Fenerbahce’s nine-game road-winning streak. Laboral began strongly and raced away to a 37-20 lead midway through second quarter. In trying to catch up, Fenerbahce got within 42-37 after the break, but Darius Adams led a 10-0 run that allowed Laboral to take the lead back to double figures and ultimately to a great home win in which Mike James top-scored with 19 points.
At Istanbul on Friday, Anadolu Efes beat EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 86-78 after being down by a 10-point margin in third quarter. The difference was made by Thomas Huertel. The defeat eliminated Milan from playoff contention. Huertel’s sudden spark of 4 three-pointers and a score of 16 ensured that the hosts led 68-59. The difference grew to 13 and despite late shooting from MarShon Brooks, Milan couldn’t recover.
In the first match on Thursday, Unicaja Malaga outplayed Nizhny Novgorod 95-75 and closed all playoff qualification chances for Nizhny. For Unicaja, Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 18 on 4-for-4 three-point shooting and Vladimir Golubovic added 17 on 8-of-8 two-point shooting plus 8 rebounds.
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