After Turkish Airlines Euro-League Round-15 Games last week, it looked as if the qualification race will intensify in the remaining 15 Rounds. The points’ difference between 2nd and 13th placed teams is not great with the latter requiring just 4 wins in 15 matches to come within qualification zone. Another notable feature of last week’s games was second consecutive defeat for table-toppers and defending champions CSKA Moscow. Regardless, CSKA are still 2 victories ahead of the second-placed teams. The Round-15 also saw the completion of last games of the year 2016 and remaining Rounds will be played in the New Year.
In an exciting contest at Istanbul, Real Madrid edged out Anadolu Efes Istanbul for an 80-78 road win and improved to 10-5 for the season while Efes dropped to 7-8. Superstar Sergio Llull couldn’t play but sensational teenager Luka Doncic filled in nicely for Llull with 17 points and career-high 9 assists. For Efes, Brandon Paul scored 16 points. The game was decided in final play, when Gustavo Ayon stopped Thomas Heurtel with a huge block and Madrid went through.
Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade shocked defeating defending champions CSKA Moscow with a 78-67 defeat at Belgrade’s Kombank Arena. After scoring the first 13 points in the game, Crvena kept the ball possession in a tactfully spectacular display. Strangely, CSKA found it difficult to score despite doing their best. Regardless, CSKA still remained table-toppers with 12-3 while Crvena found themselves in a tie for eighth place with a 7-8 record. For Crvena, Ognjen Kuzmic was the lead-scorer with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Charles Jenkins added 11 with 6 assists and 6 steals. Andrey Vorontsevich’s 21 points for CSKA were no use for his team.
In Athens, home side Olympiacos Piraeus beat Fenerbahce Istanbul 71-62 and improved to 10-5 while Fenerbahce dropped to 9-6. Olympiacos led from start and were 40-21 at halftime. Though Fenerbahce tried a late push, they couldn’t catch up with the hosts, for whom Khem Birch finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Jan Vesely’s 22 points and 10 rebounds proved wasteful in Fenerbahce’s defeat.
Zalgiris Kaunas scored a 78-70 road win over EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, who lost their 8th consecutive game and slipped to 4-11 while Zalgiris improved to 6-9. After Zalgiris led in the entire first half, Milan’s Ricky Hickman and Rakim Sanders inspired a 13-0 run but in the end, the home side lost the game despite tying the game at 56-56 after three quarters. A late surge by Zalgiris saw them through in fourth quarter. Arturas Milaknis led the winners with 16 points while old hand Paulius Jankunas added 9 with 11 rebounds. For Milan, Mantas Kalnietis scored 16 points.
Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz scored an impressive 101-88 home victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. Baskonia improved to 10-5 while Maccabi slipped to 5-10. Johannes Voigtmann was Baskonia’s top scorer with a career-high 23 points and 9 rebounds and Toko Shengelia added another 22. For Maccabi, Victor Rudd was the top-scorer with 20 points.
Home side, Unics Kazan rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to beat Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 83-81. Keith Langford netted 27 points and 5 assists for Unics as they improved to 6-9 while Panathinaikos slipped to 9-6. For Unics, Latavious Williams scored 19 points with 9 rebounds. Latavious also scored two key baskets in the last 3 minutes of the game to account for the thrilling finish. For Panathinaikos, Nick Calathes scored a career-high 23 points with 6 assists.
Brose Bamberg recorded a huge road win over Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in a 90-75 rout at Istanbul. With their fourth win in last five games, Bamberg improved to 6-9. After a closely-fought first quarter, Bamberg took the decisive lead in second and despite Galatasaray trying their best, they couldn’t catch up with the visitors. For Bamberg, Daniel Theis scored 14 points with 14 rebounds while Janis Strelnieks’ 18 points had five triples. For Galatasaray, Austin Daye’s 20 points went in vain.
In the last Regular Season game of year 2016, FC Barcelona Lassa edged out Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 81-77 at home. Barcelona improved to 7-8 while Darussafaka dropped to 8-7. For the winners, Ante Tomic came up with 16 points on 8-of-8 two-point shooting while Tyrese Rice and Sasha Vezenkov added 13 each. For the visitors, James Anderson scored 21 points. But the decisive difference for Barcelona was made by Petteri Koponen, who scored all his 9 points in the last 6 minutes of the game.