Regular Season of Turkish Airlines Euro-League is moving steadily but after a few more Rounds, one could witness a climatic situation. With victories in Round-22, top three teams are nearly assured of the play-off stage. Real Madrid lead the pack with 17 wins and reigning champions CSKA Moscow are second with 16. Olympiacos Piraeus also have 16 wins but they are placed third because of their home loss against CSKA in Round-5 on November 5, 2016. Last year’s runners-up Fenerbahce Istanbul lie at fourth place, followed by Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz and Anadolu Efes Athens. But any prediction on the final eight teams at this stage is hazardous, because some fence-sitters may change the scenario in coming weeks. Last week’s Round-22 saw home victories for 6 teams while Real Madrid and Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul distinguished themselves as road-winners.
Real Madrid notched up their eighth straight victory by defeating Unics Kazan 81-77 on road. Madrid moved to 17-5 to remain the toppers, while Unics slipped to 7-15. In a close contest, both teams fought hard and even in fourth quarter, it was anybody’s game. But with a 14-4 run, Madrid broke away and even Unics’ best efforts couldn’t stop them. Anthony Randolph was Madrid’s top-scorer on 19 points and upcoming teenager Luka Doncic produced a career-high 11 assists. For Unics, Keith Langford’s 20 points proved wasteful.
In a last-minute drama, Anadolu Efes Istanbul beat EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 90-86. Efes trailed for 39 minutes but a 10-1 run at buzzer turned the game upside down. Efes improved to 11-11 but Milan fell to 7-15. For Efes, Thomas Heurtel scored 17 points and 6 assists while Rakim Sanders netted 18 for Milan. In a major highlight, Efes reserve players came off the bench to amass 61 of their 90 points.
CSKA Moscow played offensively against Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade at home for a 102-80 victory. CSKA went up to 16-6 and held second place behind Real Madrid while Zvezda fell to 12-10. For CSKA, superstar Nando De Colo top-scored with 25 points and 6 assists, Nikita Kurbanov added 18 and Milos Teodosic another 16. Zvezda’s Luka Mitrovic scored 16 with a career-high 9 assists.
In another nail-biter, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv edged out Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 85-84 at home and improved to 9-14 while Baskonia fell to 12-11. The game was decided at buzzer, when Baskonia failed to produce a game-winner. For Maccabi, Andrew Goudelock scored 21 points while Gal Mekel added another 10 with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Andrea Bargnani led Baskonia with 17 in defeat.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens scored their 7th consecutive home win by beating Brose Baskets Bamberg 81-72. Panathinaikos rose to 13-9, while Bamberg slipped to 8-14. Panathinaikos controlled proceedings from start, leading by 11 points after halftime and 9 in third quarter. Bamberg tried a comeback but couldn’t succeed. For Panathinaikos, Mike James scored the decisive points to seal victory. For Panathinaikos, Chris Singleton top-scored with 17 points and 6 rebounds while Daniel Theis netted 18 for Bamberg.
In an all-Istanbul game, Darussafaka Dogus defeated Fenerbahce 72-65 to stay in playoff hunt. A double-double each from Darussafaka’s Ante Zizic and Brad Wanamaker took their team to 11-11 while Fenerbahce dropped to 14-8. For Darussafaka, Will Clyburn scored 20 points, Zizic added 14 with 10 rebounds and Brad Wanamaker tallied 12 with 3 steals and set a career-high and club record of 11 assists. The teams were tied, when fourth quarter began but Clyburn’s 9 points in last 10 minutes ensured Darussafaka’s win.
Olympiacos Piraeus continued their dominance at home by defeating Zalgiris Kaunas 73-64. Olympiacos’ 11th win in last 13 games took them to 16-6 for the season while Zalgiris dropped to 9-13. In a close battle, Olympiacos could never lead by more than 4 points until fourth quarter but helped by Matt Lojeski and key baskets from Georgios Printezis and Vassilis Spanoulis, Olympiacos took an assailable 10-point lead with 80 seconds remaining. Printezis top-scored with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Zalgiris’ Lukas Lekavicius scored 11 in defeat.
Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul defeated FC Barcelona Lassa 69-62 and recorded their first road win this season. Galatasaray improved to 7-15, while Barcelona dropped to 8-14 in overall standings. Alex Tyus top-scored for Galatasaray with 19 points and 9 rebounds and Jon Diebler added 14. Sasha Vezenkov was Barcelona’s top-scorer with 18 points with Stratos Perperoglou grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds. Barcelona led 28-26 at halftime but Galatasaray chased them and Diebler’s superb performance sealed the outcome for Galatasaray.