Round-12 of Top16 in Turkish Airlines Euro-League Basketball could only decide just one more qualifier last week. After three days of eventful action, Russian Club, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar emerged as the sole team to join Fenerbahce Istanbul and CSKA Moscow among the play-off qualifiers. Now the field has 9 teams for 5 remaining play-off spots and some of them could punch their tickets next week. Until then, calculations, speculations and wishful thinking will continue in this season’s Euro-league Basketball. Here is how the teams fared in Groups E & F.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar was the third qualifier to emerge after they defeated Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 86-62 in a home game on March 24. It was the first time in the Club’s history that Lokomotiv have advanced to play-off stage. The match remained even at 28-28 until the second quarter, before Lokomotiv launched a 14-3 run and wrested the advantage from the visitors. The 10-point halftime lead ballooned to 17 at the end of third quarter. Anthony Randolph and Chris Singleton scored 17 points each with Malcolm Delaney adding another 12 and 9 assists.
Panathinaikos Athens scored a close 86-84 away victory against hosts Darussafaka Dogus at Istanbul. The match was decided with less than 3 second remaining, when Elliot Williams produced a pair of free throws. The teams kept exchanging leads all through the second half and neither team could build a lead higher than 5 points before the thrilling last moment finish. Miroslav Raduljica top-scored for Panathinaikos
Anadolu Efes Istanbul scored an 87-67 home victory against Unicaja Malaga on March 25. That signified Panathinaikos and Zvezda would need to wait for another week to learn about their play-off chances. For Efes, Thomas Heurtel and Dario Saric, Efes were the two stars dominating play from start to finish. Heurtel finished with 17 points and 13 assists, while Dario Saric also had 17 with 11 rebounds.
In a surprise for table-toppers Fenerbahce on March 25, Cedevita Zagreb handed them 89-59 thrashing. The 30-point margin defeat was the second time that Fenerbahce had been drubbed in Euro-League by more than 30 points. In 2012-13 season, FC Barcelona had handed them a 39-point defeat. It was the second loss for Fenerbahce in Top16 but that doesn’t change anything for them. Cedevita were dominant from the start and led in each quarter. Cedevita’s Marko Arapovic scored 18 points Miro Bilan added another 15.
In an all-Spanish game, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria edged out FC Barcelona Lassa 75-71. With that win, Laboral improved to 8-4 while Barcelona’s record stood at 6-6. Besides Barcelona, 5 other Group F teams are locked at 6-6 and the fight for play-off spots will be intense over the last two rounds. For Laboral, Ioannis Bourousis and Mike James controlled the game and carried their team to a 58-45 lead in fourth quarter. But Barcelona’s Alex Abrines scored from 3 three-pointers and when Stratos Perperoglou scored from a triple, the score stood at 65-65 with less than 4 minutes left. But Laboral’s Jaka Blazic and Kim Tillie scored at crunch time and took their team to victory. Bourousis finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and Mike James added 14 with 5 assists.
Another qualifier lost on March 24, when Brose Baskets Bamberg outlasted CSKA Moscow 91-83. Bamberg’s Nicolo Melli led the charge with 17 points with Nikos Zisis and Leon Radosevic adding 14 apiece. Regardless, CSKA came to within 1 point in the last 60 seconds but 5 free throws by Bamberg helped them take the game from the Russians. Nando de Colo’s 21 points were a wasted effort for CSKA.
Khimki Moscow Region scored 76-71 road victory against Zalgiris Kaunas to join other teams at 6-6 after 12 rounds. Khimki trailed 35-37 at halftime but Tyler Honeycutt’s third-quarter forays opened a 56-49 lead for them for Khimki, Tyrese Rice top-scored with 17 points and Honeycutt added 10 points with 17 rebounds and 4 steals.
In the last Group F game, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Real Madrid 99-84 at home. These two teams also have a 6-6 record and next matches will hold the key. Vangelis Mantzaris was the lead scorer with 19 points with a career high 6-of-6 three-point shooting. Vassilis Spanoulis added another 18. The host led 53-33 at halftime and Madrid couldn’t rally in third and fourth quarters except managing to bring down the margin of defeat