Finally, a grueling regular season for Turkish Airlines sponsored Euro-League Basketball competition; has come to an end. The season began on October 17 and lasted until yesterday, December 20, 2013. The 24 qualifiers were divided in 4 Groups, A, B, C & D and as per the tournament format, the 6 teams in each Group played 10 round-robin matches against their group-mates. The best 4 teams from each Group have now advanced to the last 16. These teams have been divided into 2 Groups, E and F, and the next part of the tournament resumes on January 2, 2014. Each team will play twice with every other team in its Group, once again in a round-robin fashion, and such matches will continue until April 11, 2014. When all matches are over; 4 best teams from the two Groups will enter the play-off stages to be contested during April 15-25, 2014. In the play-offs, the top team in E will meet the Fourth-placed team in F; second-placed in F will meet third-placed team in E; top team in F will meet fourth-placed in E and second placed team E will meet the third-placed team in F. These matches will be the best-of-five games, from where the four winners will go to Milan, Italy, the fashion capital of the world. The final four matches in Milan during May 16-18, 2014 will be two semifinals between Playoff winners A & B and C&D, the final between semifinal winners to decide the new Euro-league champion and a third place match between semifinal losers.
As of yesterday, the Group toppers were Fenerbache Ulker Istanbul with 100 points from Group A; Real Madrid with 237 points from Group B; Olympiacos Piraeus with 78 points from Group C and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv with 53 points from Group D. The two teams, who have won all their round-robin10 games, are last year’s Runners-up Real Madrid from Spain and defending champions Olympiacos Piraeus from Greece. These two teams met with one another in the last year’s Euro-league final in London, where Olympiacos Piraeus had defeated Real Madrid 100-88.
Some events from the regular season matches will be cherished for long by Euro-league fans. In a memorable Group C finish at Florence, Italy, Unicaja Malaga edged out Montepaschi Siena 64-62 in a closely fought heart-stopping match. Unicaja’s Jayson Granger produced a delectable one-handed shoot seconds from closing time and that marvelous shot propelled Unicaja to the third pace in Group C, while Siena were eliminated. It was a see-saw battle which could also have resulted in Seina qualifying. This year, the tournament had a new entrant in Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, who had not participated in any top European competition since 1999-2000. They played their final game on December 20, 2013 and though they could not qualify, the team will be remembered for their 7’4” center Boban Marjanovic, tallest player this season. In the last game he was nearly unstoppable as he scored 25 points in 18 minutes from the time the game started. He was single-handedly responsible for his club’s 99-75 victory over Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. Such was the momentum displayed by Marjanovic that, in addition to clean baskets, he pulled down 11 rebounds, dished 3 assists, and blocked a shot, adding up to a performance index rating of 33. In terms of the per-minute performance, no player had ever done any better than Marjanovic in Euro-league history. As it turned out, the electrifying display from Marjanovic enabled him to make a career-high score and rightfully claim the Bwin MVP title for Round 10.
There were many other heroes after the end of round 10 and they included, Real Madrid’s Sergio Rodriguez, who accumulated an index rating of 30 to take the second place after Marjanovic . He was called from the benches and he forced 24 points in 23 minutes, which included a firing a perfect 6 out of 6 from behind the arc. He also provided 5 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal to his line. Two guys shared the third place with an index rating of 27 each. They were DaJuan Summers of Budivelnik Kiev and Justin Dentmon of Zalgiris Kaunas. Dentmon had career-high 26 points and 7 rebounds, along with 4 assists in an 80-84 road win at Brose Baskets Bamberg, while Summers collected 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 drawn fouls in a loss against FC Barcelona. The fifth spot in round 10 belonged to Stratos Perperoglou of Olympiacos Piraeus. Perperoglou bagged 23 points on 5 out of 6 three-point shooting and 3 assists. He also had 2 rebounds to reach an index rating of 25.