The 2016–17 Turkish Airlines Euro-League Basketball season is already 8-rounds old. The 17th season of modern era of Euro-League basketball comes with a new format and unlike previous years, it has only 16 teams in Regular Season. Each team will play 30 rounds in home-and-away basis until April 7, 2017 and the best 8 will advance to the play-off stage. From April 18 to May 8, the qualified teams will play in a best-of-five series competition and series winners will enter the Final Four. This season’s Final Four competitions will be held in Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome. The single-elimination semifinals will be played on May 19 and the championship game on May 21, 2017. The 16 teams of 2016-17 Regular Season comprise of 11 licensed clubs in Europe plus 5 associated clubs with an annual license. These 5 teams have qualified by winning either in their domestic leagues or fulfilling the other criteria set by Euro-League organizers. After the last season had concluded, FIBA wanted to take control of the Euro-League but their proposal was unanimously rejected by all licensed Euro-League clubs. The last six weeks of the new season has already seen the conclusion of 8 rounds and the 9th is slated to be played during November 24-25, 2016. With 7 victories from 8 matches, reigning champions CSKA Moscow lead the competition with Real Madrid right behind at no.2 with 6 victories. But there is still a long way to go and anything can happen in the remaining 22 rounds until April 7, 2017.
Last week’s Round-8 games were full of action involving two of the biggest derbies in world basketball. Both were road victories with just one difference. While the one between Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus went to the wire with the result coming in dying seconds; the other derby was a blowout between Spanish clubs FC Barcelona Lassa and Real Madrid. The visitors from Madrid crushed Barcelona 102-63 in one of the worst home defeats inflicted on the hosts by their archrivals. There was another thriller between Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and Russia’s Unics Kazan that the visiting Maccabi won at 74-73 on Thursday. The rest of last week’s action was no less interesting with several matches going to the edges of thrill.
One of the world’s greatest basketball rivalries lived up to its hype in the contest between the famous Greek Clubs; Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus. The hosts had the match in their grips until the last 3 seconds before Olympiacos’ Vassilis Spanoulis controlled the final possession by driving towards the lane and feeding to Georgios Printezis. The Olympiacos star made no mistake with layup and free throws and his team went through with the score of 79-77. The visitors now have a 5-3 score in overall standings while Panathinaikos are at 4-4. For Olympiacos Piraeus, Spanoulis notched up 22 points and 8 assists while Printezis had 16. The other derby, however, turned out to be a lop-sided affair between visiting Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Lassa at Palau Blaugrana. Real Madrid led from start to finish in their 102-63 victory, which is their biggest victory margin over Barcelona in Turkish Airlines Euro-League till date. Madrid improved to 6-2 in the standings, while Barcelona dropped to 4-4. For Real Madrid, Sergio Llull scored 20 points with 7 assists, Jaycee Carroll netted 19 and Randolph had 18 and 11 rebounds with 3 blocks. Tyrese Rice’s 23 points for Barcelona went in vain.
In another Round-8 thriller, visiting Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv scored a narrow 74-73 victory over Russia’s Unics Kazan. Despite leading by 13 points in the first quarter, Maccabi allowed Unics to come back in the match. The hosts led by 4 points in fourth quarter but late action from Sonny Weems and a critical block by Devin Smith took Maccabi to a thrilling victory. Smith top-scored with 16 points and 6 rebounds for Maccabi while Keith Langford scored 22 for Unics. Last year’s runners-up Fenerbahce Istanbul had lost in Rounds 5th, 6th and 7th. But they snapped that losing streak with an 88-80 home win over town-rivals Anadolu Efes Istanbul. With that, Fenerbahce are now 5-3 in the standings while Efes dropped to 3-5. For Fenerbahce, Kostas Sloukas scored 21 points with 4 assists; Jan Vesely had 20 with 6 rebounds and 4 steals.
In other four matches last week, Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade defeated EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 83-70 in Belgrade and both teams are now 4-4 in the standings; Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz overcame a 15-point second-half deficit to beat Brose Bamberg 81-74 at home; in another all-Istanbul Clubs’ contest, Galatasaray Odeabank defeated Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 85-81 and defending champions CSKA Moscow extended their lead to 7-1 in the competition by defeating Zalgiris Kaunas 95-86 at Moscow.