The Turkish Airlines sponsored Euro-league basketball is now interestingly poised. With the completion of the league phase, the 8 contenders for the knock-out phase of the tournament, which begins on April 15, have clearly emerged. On April 10 and 11, every team from Group E and F finished its last league game. Seven of the eight play-off entrants had already become known after the results from Round 13 matches, but the eighth quarterfinalist and the line-up for the next phase became known only last night at the completion of the 14th and the final round of the double-round robin league matches.

Euro-leagueIt had been known for some time that the seven qualifiers for the play-off stage were; FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, EA7 Emporio Armani, Milan, Maccabi Electra of Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens. Before the league games of April 10 and 11, the 8th place in the play-off stage could have either gone to the Turkish outfit Galatasaray Liv Hospital, Istanbul or the Russian side from Krasnodar, Lokomotiv Kuban. While Lokomotiv Kuban kept their hopes alive by winning the last league game against Bayern Munich 84-75 on April 10, they had to wait another day to learn about their unfortunate exit from the tournament. On April 11, the Isntanbul’s Galatasaray Liv Hospital played inspired basketball to beat Partizan NIS Belgrade 64-55 to claim the last spot for the play-off phase and finish ahead of Lokomotiv. The heartbroken Lokomotiv Kuban lost out on points’ difference, as they had -17 to Galatasaray’s +7 in comparison.

The eight teams will now travel to the four basketball centers in Europe; Milan, Moscow, Madrid and Barcelona. After the teams’ standings at the completion of Round 13 matches, played during April 2-4, 2014, the organizers had no hesitation in announcing the venues for play-off games, because the hosts had qualified anyway. There was a bit of uncertainty about the two Greek teams; Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens since, until yesterday night, it was not known which Greek team will go to Moscow and which will travel to Madrid. Now such speculation has been put to rest. On the night of April 10, Olympiacos Piraeus beat Panathinaikos Athens 68-65 and the result means Olympiacos Piraeus will take on Real Madrid in the Spanish capital, while Panathinaikos Athens will go to Moscow to take on CSKA Moscow.

For the Round 1 on April 15, while Barcelona will host Galatasaray Liv Hospital, Istanbul, Madrid will play host for the match between the home team Real Madrid and Olympiacos Piraeus. Likewise in Moscow, CSKA will host Panathinaikos Athens April 16 and on the same day, Milan will play host to the match between EA7 Emporio Armani and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.

The Round 2 matches will be conducted on April 17 and 18, 2014. The action in Barcelona and Madrid will take place on April 17, while Moscow and Milan will have the Round 2 scheduled on April 18. For Round 3, only Barcelona will see the action on April 20, while these matches at Madrid, Moscow and Milan will be played on April 21. Similarly Barcelona will host the Round 4 on April 22, while other venues will have such matches on April 23. All the matches of the last and final round 5 will be staged at the designated venues on April 25. The final four from the play-off stages will travel for the ultimate basketball show in Milan during May 16-18, 2014. On May 16, the two semifinals will be played, while May 17 has been kept reserved for the game between the losing semifinalists to decide the third place. May 18 will be the big day, when the 2014 Euro-league winner becomes known.