The Euroleague Regular Season came to an end this week as we begin to move into the Top-16 stage.
Group A Action
SLUC Nancy went down to Olympiacos by a final score of 74-79 in a close game that could have gone either way. Nancy made a number of third and fourth quarter runs, bringing Olympiacos’ lead down to the slimmest of margins, but like all great teams, they responded with tough makes.
Olympiacos went up by seven on a three-pointer by big man Pero Antic, but a put back and two at the line by Adrien Moerman cut the margin to five points. Nancy gave up too many offensive boards in the final three minutes and were seemingly given chance after chance at a game-tying three point attempt but the French side simply couldn’t convert.
Jamal Shuler was fantastic for Nancy with 18 points and nine rebounds. For Olympaicos, Antic finished with 20 and Georgios Printezis contributed 18 points.
In a do or die game, Gescrap BB took a 77-72 win over Caja Laboral, a win that eliminated their opponents and propelled the Spanish team into their first ever Top 16 appearance.
It was a three point game for the final few minutes, but Gescrap was able to finish their opponents off at the free-throw line.
Gescrap’s Marko Banic led all scorers with 18 points (7-10 shooting from the field).
Fenerbahce Ulker held on to defeat Bennet Cantu 83-76 behind 21 points from Oguz Savas and 19 from NBA prospect Bojan Bogdanovic.
The win put Fenerbahce on top of Group A, but even the loss, Cantu was still able to maintain third position in the group and advance to next stage.
Group B Action
An exciting night in Group B action, CSKA Moscow kicked things of by solidifying their top overall ranking by defeating third seed Unicaja 91-83. While CSKA finished the tournament’s regular season as the only undefeated side, the loss for Unicaja dropped them down a position on the group table and out of the competition.
Former tournament MVP, Milos Teodosic returned to his best form and posted a very impressive 18 points and 10 assists. Nenad Krstic had another fine game and finished with 14 points and six rebounds while drawing seven fouls on the Unicaja defenders.
The Spanish side received a number of impressive performances in their loss. Joel Freeland, Hrvoje Peric (7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Gerald Fitch (6 rebounds, 5 assists) all scored 16 for Unicaja, however it was not enough to compete with the size and depth of the Russian powerhouse.
Panathinaikos’ 71-66 victory of Brose Baskets knocked the German side out of consideration while allowing for Zalgiris Kaunas to sneak into Top 16 as the third seed in the group.
Brose took a late fourth quarter lead but were unable to pull it together. The win was Panathinaikos’ third in a row and certified their position as the group’s second seed. The Greek team’s size controlled the boards with four players collecting over six rebounds. Kaimakoglou was the stand out as he registered 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Bamberg’s only two real big men, Tibor Pleiss and Marcus Slaughter, were decent, but not enough to steal a win.
Zalgiris Kaunas won 87-76 at home against KK Zagreb and moved into the Top 16. Not a competitive game, Sonny Weems led Zalgiris with 20 points while Marko Popovic contributed 17 of his own.
The win marked a fantastic string of games for Zalgiris and after a very average early season start they have compiled three wins from the last four games, enough to sneak into the next stage of the tournament.
Group C Action
What turned out to be the game of round featured two teams competing against each other for the group’s final place in the Top 16. Partizan entered the game needing to lose by no less than three points while EA7 Emporio Armani Milan found themselves needing to win by four or more points.
An extremely low scoring first half saw Milan only crack the 30 point barrier two minutes into the third term, but they used the early stages of the quarter to reduce Partizan’s double digit lead to just four points. Things continued to go wrong for the Serbian team as Milan used a 14-8 run to end the quarter and take a one point lead.
The Italian side controlled the game from that point on. With a chance to cut Milan’s lead to four points, Acie Law missed one of two free throws in the final minutes that severely damaged Partizan’s chances of reaching that three point mark. Luckily for Law, some poor efforts by Milan’s star players in the final minutes (including two missed gimme buckets by Malik Hairston in the paint with 20 seconds remaining) took a bit of pressure of the choke job.
A shocked Partizan home crowd saw Milan close the game out at the line, winning 72-66 and advancing to the Top 16.
Milan’s Malik Hairston led all scorers with 18 and played an efficient game. He also hit a clutch three late in the game off an assist from Omar Cook. His presence for Milan was vital in the second half even though he played the majority of that time with four fouls.
Cook, a former NBA reserve, was also brilliant. He was deadly in transition, nailed a couple of three point baskets, was very aggressive drawing fouls and hunting for loose rebounds and added six assists to his 17 points.
For the losers, Malik Macvan had another solid game in what was a fantastic tournament for the 22-year-old. He finished with 13 (only two second half points), but grabbed 11 boards and handed out four assists. Macvan has a very solid future ahead of him and it was great to see a young guy succeed as he used his high levels of basketball IQ and hustle combined with his size and talent to dominate the competition this year.
Law had another forgettable performance shooting 2-6 (six points), but registered five assists. While he did make a couple of nice passes that led to buckets late in the fourth, he had a couple of really weak attempts at the basket, some of which hurt his team went the ball went the other way.
Real Madrid turned in a dominant second half to route Anadolu Efes 75-66. Up by as much as 17 in the second term, Efes was able to bring the deficit under ten points, but lost all their momentum as the third quarter began.
Kyle Singler started again and was solid with 12 points on 5-8 shooting, but Real’s top player was NBA prospect Nikola Mirotic who finished with 16 points on 6-9 from the field.
Dusko Savanovic was a beast for the losing side. He tallied 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
A six consecutive win, Real finished a strong regular season campaign with an 8-2 record and finished first in the group. The loss had little impact on Efes’ standing in the group as they finished third with a place in the Top 16.
Belgacom Spirou were already out of contention for the Top 16, but still lost in embarrassing fashion as they were blown out 86-69 by Maccabi Electra. The win pushed Maccabi into second position.
Keith Langford had a season-high 20 points and contribute five rebounds while David Blu also had 15 and five.
Group D Action
Barcelona Regal destroyed Galatasaray 79-50 and finished their regular season campaign with a 9-1 win loss record and top spot in the group.
Former L.A Clipper Boniface N’Dong led Barca in the blowout with 16 points, six rebounds and four blocks while Australian international Joe Ingles also had a solid night out. The versatile swingman contributed eight points, four rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes of action.
Montepaschi could advance no further than second position in Group D but won regardless, defeating the lowly Asseco Prokom, 79-53. Pietro Aradori was the top scorer for the Italian side with a game-high 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He was also their only player to reach double figures.
Unics went into their matchup with Union Olimpija with hope of stealing second position in the group, but even with their 13 points victory, Montepaschi’s own victory meant Unics had to settle for third position and a trip to the Top 16. Not a bad result for the Russian side making their Euroleague debut.
American guard Henry Domercant led Unics with 16 points and nabbed five rebounds as well.
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