By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Only one unbeaten team is left in Euroleague’s Top16 and Barcelona with a 5-0 record can already make plans for the quarterfinals. It’s not just a matter of speaking but a fact based on the Catalans’ advantage. Barcelona leads the standings in Group E, followed by EA7 Armani, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos at 3-2. Unicaja Malaga and Anadolu Efes are sharing the fifth place with a 2-3 record, while Laboral Kutxa and Fenerbahce/ Ulker are left at 1-4.
In Group F, there is a three way tie on the top between Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow and Maccabi Tel Aviv (4-1). Lokomotiv Kuban is one step behind (3-2), Bayern Munich and Galatasaray are tied at the fifth place (2-3), Partizan has one win (1-4) and Zalgiris Kaunas remains the only team with a 0 in the “w” column (0-5).
He is an “artist”, has many ups and downs but when he is up, he is something to behold. He destroyed Bayern Munich by scoring 24 points on 6/10 threes and has also 5 assists and 5 rebounds in the 86-61 road win of CSKA. If Milos can produce like that constantly, then CSKA’s offense is just beautiful to watch. Let’s hope that this game was just a start.
Best losing performance: Tarence Kinsey
Partizan is hurt by injuries and Kinsey did the best he could in order to help his team win. He scored 32 points on 13/21 shots and had also 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block and 2 turnovers. However it was not enough. Lokomotiv Kuban got the 87-81 win at Belgrade, the fight of the hosts was valiant but the Russian just had more manpower.
Biggest win: Barcelona
What Barcelona did in OAKA against Panathinaikos was the best possible scenario for the Catalans. The 63-56 win kept them unbeaten and gave them at least a two wins advantage against every other opponent in Group E. Add to that the fact that Barca has already beaten on the road the Greens, Olympiacos and Fenerbahce/ Ulker. It’s still early but on paper, only with a complete suicide Barcelona will miss not just the play offs, but also the home court advantage.
Back on track: Real Madrid
After losing in Moscow, Real Madrid got the 74-68 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv, but more importantly returned to the top of the standings in Group F. Yes, Real isn’t unbeaten anymore, but the point is that even without sizzling like it did during the regular season, coach Lasso’s team is still on the driver’s seat and in time we expect to see his players in full throttle again.
The come back: Anadolu Efes
After the miracle shot of Planinic, a road win over Laboral Kutxa (72-66). Yes, Efes has two straight wins and entered again the race for the play offs in the tough group E. Not a bad situation to be in, as coach Aggelou took some risks by deciding to part ways with Scotty Hopson, one of the standouts of the team during regular season. As for the reason, it’s still a mystery…
The underachiever: Fenerbahce/ Ulker
Fenerbahce/ Ulker has just one win in five Top16 games, lost to EA7 Milano by letting the Italians score 90 points and now time is not a friend for Obradovic and company. The Turkish club has to react immediately or else one of the Final Four favorites, a title that was cement during regular season, is in danger of losing the play offs. With nine games left, anything can still happen, but Zoc must find the missing ingredient for his team chemistry and efficiency.
Last word: Win without V-Span
Every one can have one bad night, but the game of the reigning MVP Vasilis Spanoulis against Unicaja was dreadful. Just 2 points on 1/12 shots, 3 assists, 2 turnovers and a -8 ranking, his worst ever in Euroleague. It wasn’t pretty, but on the other hand it’s good news for Olympiacos to get a 73-55 over Unicaja with V-Span being negative.