By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After a glorious Thursday night, Euroleague’s 8th gameday concluded with Panathinaikos and Laboral Kutxa getting also their Top16 tickets as Group D is already decided. With both teams winning, Maccabi T.A. and Lokomotiv Kuban are sharing the top (6-2), followed by the Spaniards (5-3) and the Greeks (4-4). After their defeats Crvena Zvezda (2-6) and Lietuvos Rytas (1-7) will continue their season in Eurocup.
In Group A, Fenerbahce/Ulker (7-1) almost locked the top spot, followed by Barcelona and CSKA Moscow (6-2). Nanterre (3-5) has the chance with a road win next week over Budivelnyk (1-7) to get the last open Top16 spot, or else Partizan (2-6) still has hopes. In Group B, undefeated Real Madrid secured the first place (8-0) after beating EA7 Milano (4-4), which is tied with Anadolu Efes (4-4) followed by Zalgiris Kaunas (3-5) and Brose Baskets (3-5) in a four team race for three qualification spots, as Strasbourg (2-6) despite beating Zalgiris is one step behind. In Group C, Olympiacos is in the same situation as Real (8-0), Galatasaray secured a Top16 spot (5-3) and then there is chaos as Unicaja Malaga, Bayern Munich and Siena are tied at (3-5) and Zielona Gora can still hope (2-6).
And here’s what happened in two thrilling days and of course our awards.
In Munich he had his best game so far this season, scoring 24 points on 8/12 shots, 2 rebounds and 7 assists with just one turnover. Last season MVP after a slow start he is in “killer” mode and proved it emphatically with an impressive “tour de force” in the 105-103 road win of Olympiacos.
- Carlos Arroyo: His team wanted him to step up in the first game without punished Pops Mensah Bonsu and he did with 22 points and 5 assists in the 78-70 win over Unicaja.
- Vasilis Spanoulis: He has a great performance in a game that will be remembered
- Jamar Smith: Ηe was instant offense with 18 points, 4/5 threes in 22 minutes. Plus he made his damage in the last quarter, when Brose Baskets made a come back and beat on the road Anadolu Efes
- Joffrey Lauvergne: He flirted with the double double (18 p., 8 r.) in the 76-61 win of Partizan against Budivelnyk. Still, Partizan is more than possible to miss Top16 and the question is if we will continue seeing him in Euroleague.
- Lamont Hamilton: In the easy win of Laboral Kutxa over Lietuvos Rytas (79-63) he proved that he is ready to go again after his injury woes with 17 points in 17.40 minutes, 6/8 shots and 5 rebounds.
Best losing performance: Vladimir Dragicevic
You can put here also Delaney and Schaffartzik from the epic Munich game, but we prefer Dragicevic of Zielona Gora for two reasons. First of all he had a great game against Siena (20 p., 8/11 s., 4 r., 2 as., 2 st.) that was decided by a buzzer beater. It’s the second time that the Polish champions lost a game this way, after their road defeat by Olympiacos three weeks ago and that’s what we can do in order to comfort them.
The biggest win: Fenerbahce/ Ulker
It wasn’t a great game, Fenerbahce had better nights, but the fact that after losing at Barcelona the Turks bounced back in Moscow is at least admirable. The final 78-74 has also to do with the inability of the hosts to make the right plays in crunch time, however you have to credit where is due. And once more Obradovic proved that he is the nemesis of Ettore Messina.
The best game: Bayern Munich – Olympiacos
Real Madrid had given some great shows so far in the season, but this game was special. Both teams had a great night, more than efficient shooting, made few turnovers and fought until the very end. If Heiko Schaffartzik had made his last three pointer, that would be also the biggest win of the week. Still it was one of the best Euroleague games to watch at least in recent memory and an
instant classic. The final score was 105-103 and no one bothered with he absences of Nihad Djedovic for the hosts and Printezis, Begic for the guests.
Τhe upset: Brose Baskets
The German champions had to win on the road in order to get back to the Top16 race and they did with style, with an epic 32-14 come back in the last quarter of their game against Anadolu Efes in Istanbul. The final 89-78 puts even Efes in danger, as it was the second defeat of the Turks by the Germans and in case of a tie, Brose Baskets will have the advantage.
Τhe underachiever: Barcelona
The Catalans got what they wanted against Nanterre, despite almost committing suicide. With 1.26 minute left the score was 80-72, but the hosts managed to cut the lead to two (80-78) with 45 seconds to go. Yes, the result finally counts (82-78), but after a good game against Fenerbahce/ Ulker, Barcelona made again a step back.
Last word: Buzzer beaters (again)
Four games were decided in the last shot. In the case of Maccabi‘s and Olympiacos’ wins it was missed by Lokomotiv Kuban and Bayern Munich respectively, but on the contrary Louis Campbell of Strasbourg and Jeff Vigianno – for the second time this season after the road win over Unicaja – of Siena made it. It’s a cruel finish for the losing team, but that’s basketball