By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a thrilling night with big games and a photo finish deciding the play offs. Yes, that’s what you have to expect in the last Top16 gameday and Euroleague once more delivered. Without any delay here are the play offs couples with the team being written first having the home court advantage: Barcelona – Panathinaikos, Real Madrid – Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos – Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow – Caja Laboral.
So it’s possible to have a semifinal between Real and Barca in London’ final four and also a rematch of the last final between Olympiacos and CSKA. However, we are still very far from there and for now we have to cherish this incredible Thursday night.
You have to love this guy. In the most crucial game of the season for Olympiacos, Pap had 21 points on 6/6 three pointers, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist and 1 turnover in 32 minutes of action in the win over Khimki. The only problem for Olympiacos is that if he continues to be such a big time player, then it’s just a matter of time for the Blazers to come knocking.
- Sergio Llull: He manage to steal Rudy’s thunder in the win over Anadolu Efes with 16 points, 6 assist, 4 rebounds and 1 turnover
- Alex Abrines: With Navarro hurting, 20 years old Abrines emerged as the top scorer of Barcelona with 21 points in the biggest night of his Euroleague career, as the Catalans beat Maccabi.
- Kostas Papanikolaou: The best game of his Euroleague career so far
- Viktor Khryapa: “Mr do it all” of CSKA was the top scorer of his team with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assist in the win over Panathinaikos and his only flaw was his 4 turnovers
- Maciej Lampe: Siena didn’t have any player capable of stopping him and the result was 27 points (12/19 2p.) and 9 rebounds in a dominant performance
The biggest win: Caja Laboral
It was the do or die game of the day, the loser in most cases would be eliminated and that happened to Siena. Caja Laboral once more managed to save the day in the nick of time and will give a fight against CSKA in the play offs. The final 76-64 in favor of the Basques over the defending Italian champions is a testament to their strength of character in a very erratic season so far.
The favorite: CSKA Moscow
The Russians wanted to prove against Panathinaikos that they were the better team and they did. The Greens, despite having Dimitris Diamantidis in a very bad night – he finished the game without scoring – played fiercely, but CSKA had the quality and the grace on the court to get the top spot of their group. Now they are considered by many the favorites to go all the way.
The pride: Barcelona
They are missing Pete Mickael and also lost Juan Carlos Navarro who was hurting in his feet the last minutes of the game. However the Catalans beat Maccabi Tel Aviv, doing a favor mainly to Caja Laboral. That’s the way to finish the Top16, having already qualified to the play offs.
The champions: Olympiacos
The Reds knew that in most cases they could squeeze into the play offs, but that wasn’t enough. They didn’t want to be defeated in their gym, despite the fact that it was far from a full house, and they played probably their best Top16 game against Khimki, which needed the win in order to continue its Euroleague season.
The contenders: Real Madrid
After consecutive bad games Real exploded against Anandolu Efes and got the home court advantage in the play offs. It was a team effort and a proof that Madrid can also play defense. That can be really helpful from now on.
The rest of the day
Zalgiris Kaunas and Alba Berlin got their wins, but that didn’t change anything in the big picture. However, the Germans will remember their road win in Malaga and Zalgiris despite its many problems didn’t surrender. Maybe next years, things can be better.
The last word: Danny Ainge
After returning to Athens from his scouting trip in Volos, where the fans of local team Niki shouted to him that they are Lakers‘ fans, the Boston Celtics president felt right at home at OAKA. After all, Panathinaikos wears Green and has the shamrock as its crest. Ainge enjoyed the hospitality and as you can see he was impressed by the passion of the Greek fans. This is something that you simply can’t have in the NBA.
[league_table id=’177′ num_matches=’20’]