Over two days on December 17 & 18, 2015, Round-10 Games of the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euro-league Regular Season were played and all Top-16 qualifiers emerged with clarity. While 13 teams had already qualified after Round-9 matches, reigning champions Real Madrid in Group-A were not amongst them. Including Madrid, two spots still remained in Group A after Round-9. However, there was no confusion for teams in Group-B and Group-C, whereas one spot was up for grabs in Group-D. Finally, Real Madrid got amongst the Top-16 along with Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade in Group-A while new entrant Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul took the last spot in Group-D. In a Round-10 highlight, Real Madrid not only crushed Strasbourg 97-65 but also created Euro-league history by setting competition’s single-game record of 36 assists. Madrid broke the old record of 33 assists, which was reached three times over the last one year. Real Madrid had done that twice in the 2014-15 Regular Season and CSKA Moscow matched that in this season’s Round-2 game against Sassari. The Top-16 Games begin on December 29, where 8 teams in Group E & F will play 14 matches each on home-and-away basis until April 8, 2016. Best 4 teams from each Group will enter the knock-out stage. A brief note of Round-16 Regular Season matches follows.
Defending Euro-league champions Real Madrid had an emphatic 97-65 home win against Strasbourg. In the process, Madrid secured the Top 16 berth and created Euro-league’s all-time assist’s record of 36. The hosts dominated 29-15 after first quarter and led 44-22 at halftime. There were 6 double-digit scores from Madrid with Jeffery Taylor leading with 16 points and Sergio Rodriguez adding 14. Madrid’s 36 assists came with four players providing 6 and teenage sensation Luka Doncic dishing out 7 assists in just 13 minutes. The last Top-16 berth in Group-A was taken by Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, who disappointed Bayern Munich with an 85-76 triumph. Bayern fought back and looked like stealing the game from Zvezda, when they led by 11 points in the third quarter but in the fourth quarter, Zvezda completely dominated and reversed the tie in their favor. For Zvezda, Quincy Miller scored 21 with 10 rebounds; Maik Zirbes added 17 with 9 rebounds while Marko Guduric added another 16. In an exciting game between two already qualified teams, Bogdan Bogdanovic’s last second efforts enabled Fenerbahce Istanbul to beat Khimki Moscow Region 70-68 on road. Fenerbahce topped the Group with a 8-2 record ahead of Khimki, Real Madrid and Zvedza.
All four qualified teams in this Group were already known before Round-10 Games and the only thing of importance was the teams’ 1-4 positions. Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated Olympiacos Piraeus 81-68 to secure second place. Efes led from the start and maintained an almost 10-point margin over Olympiacos. Dario Saric was the lead scorer with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists while Thomas Heurtel added 13 with 5 assists. A day earlier, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz had defeated Cedevita Zagreb 92-70 to finish third while Cedevita took the fourth place. For Laboral, Fabien Causeur scored 20 points; Ioannis Bourousis added 17 and Toko Shengelia netted another 16. In a match between two eliminated teams, Limoges CSP defeated EA7 Emporio Armani 77-69 to take the fifth place while Milan finished sixth with a 3-7 win-loss record.
Like Group-B, all 4 qualified teams had already emerged in Group-C after Round-9 games. Regardless, the game between Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and FC Barcelona Lassa went to the edges of thrill before Lokomotiv snatched the last-minute 78-74 victory. With that, Lokomotiv took the top spot with an 8-2 record while Barcelona finished second with 6-4. Early in fourth quarter, Barcelona had a 54-63 lead but Lokomotiv rallied in dying moments of the game. Malcolm Delaney led Lokomotiv with 19 points and 9 assists while Anthony Randolph scored 16 with 7 rebounds and 3 steals. On December 17, in a direct fight for third spot, Panathinaikos Athens edged out Zalgiris Kaunas 75-72 in an away game. It was an intensely fought battle, where Zalgiris led 58-52 until after the third quarter but Panathinaikos got lucky in the end. Though the Greek club had the same 6-4 win-loss record as FC Barcelona, they had to rest content with the third place because Barcelona had better point difference in the head-to-head wins against each other. The fifth spot went to debutants Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir, who scored a thrilling 83-81 road victory over Stelmet Zielona Gora.
Just one spot had remained in this Group and that was taken by new entrants Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul despite their 66-70 loss against Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. On Thursday, Maccabi needed to win with an 11-point margin to take the fourth place but Darussafaka didn’t allow that and made history by becoming the first-time Top-16 qualifier. Both teams finished with 4-6 record but Darussafaka prevailed on points’ difference criteria. On final day of Regular Season, CSKA Moscow defeated Unicaja Malaga 88-76 to top Group-D with a 9-1 record. Unicaja finished second with 7-3. However, Unicaja led 33-24 at one time in the second quarter but CSKA rallied late in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 46-42 by halftime. After the break, CSKA recovered brilliantly and finished the game decisively. Nando de Colo led CSKA’s score with 18 points and 7 assists while Joel Freeland and Nikita Kurbanov added 10 each. In another match, already qualified Brose Baskets Bamberg defeated Dinamo Banco di Sassari 86-54. Sassari thus finished the Regular Season with their 10th loss in 10 matches. Bamberg dominated the match from start with Nikos Zisis leading them with 16 points and Daniel Theis and Janis Strelnieks adding 12 each.
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