Βy Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Real Madrid has a more than important advantage for the first place of Group F, paving the way for a possible “Clasico” in the Euroleague final, and also on the way pushed Lokomotiv practically out of the play offs. Welcome to Top16 13th week where everything is almost decided.
To be exact in Group E the first place is secured by Barcelona (12-1), the second by EA7 Milano (10-3) and the third and fourth will be decided next week between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos (7-6) in the game between them. Unicaja (5-8), Fenerbahce (5-8), Laboral Kutxa (4-9) and Anadolu Efes (2-11) are out.
In Group F, Real Madrid (11-2) and CSKA Moscow (11-2) are still tied, but the Spaniards have a big tie breaking advantage, Maccabi Tel Aviv is third (8-5) and the duo of Galatasaray (6-7) and Lokomotiv Kuban (6-7) are tied at the fourth place with Galatasaray being also the favorite to get through. Bayern Munich (5-8), Partizan (4-9) and Zalgiris (1-12) are out.
It’s almost a movie scenario. The former leader returns as an opponent against his old team, he has one of his best, if not the best, game of the season and secures a play offs spot for his new team. In 26 minutes he had 18 points on 2/2 threes, five assists, two rebounds, two steals and three turnovers. Add to that the most important free throws of the game which practically secured the 94-92 road win of Maccabi Tel Aviv in Munich against Bayern.
- Dimitris Diamantidis: The qualification was on the line and the captain was at his best. It was a vintage 3D performance with 13 points on just six shots (3/4 2p., 2/2 3p.), six assists, four rebounds, a block and no turnovers in 31 minutes of action as Panathinaikos beat Unicaja 69-60.
- Tyrese Rice: Thursday was his night…
- Alessandro Gentile: It was his big night as EA7 Milano broke the 24 Top16 winning streak of Barcelona (91-63) and he had a monster game (24 p., 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover). It was a great message send by Milano, but a game that didn’t changed anything in the standings.
- Davis Bertans: Finally some good news for Partizan. The Latvian forward is healthy, he got minutes and he produced 17 points and 10 rebounds in the 78-67 win over Zalgiris.
- Tibor Pleiss: Laboral Kutxa had no qualification hopes, but it was one more day in the office for him with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the surprisingly easy 95-73 win over Fenerbahce/ Ulker and got Panathinaikos and Olympiacos qualified to the play offs.
Best losing performance: Malcolm Delaney
This was a tough choice, because of Zoran Erceg‘s career night with 35 points – the best offensive performance this season in Euroleague – and 9 rebounds in the overtime defeat of Galatasaray by CSKA Moscow (86-85). However his team accepted the one point defeat (more on that later). On the contrary Delaney‘s Bayern was fighting for its life against Maccabi and he put everything on the floor with 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, two steals and one turnover. We just have to salute a great last stand.
Biggest win: Maccabi Tel Aviv
It’s not usual for Maccabi Tel Aviv to be second in its domestic league so far into the season. Add to that a Euroleague play offs qualification under doubt before the start of a game against an ambitious newcomer in the competition. Well, Maccabi did it. It was hard, it was scrappy at times, it was a fight. That’s why the 94-92 win which sealed the qualification was the most important result of this week. Plus it produced an exciting play offs couple as the Israelis will face EA7 Milano without having the home court advantage in a match up that seems really balanced.
A top spot performance: Real Madrid
Real Madrid is tied with CSKA Moscow for the top spot of Group F, but after Friday night the Spaniards have a huge tie breaking advantage. As both teams are completely tied with one Top16 win by 14 points each in the games between them, the total goal average will be the decisive factor. After the 81-55 win over Lokomotiv, Real has a +150 goal average against the +127 of CSKA.
A semi-win: Galatasaray
Yes, Galatasaray lost at overtime BUT they chose to do so. With 10 seconds left and the score being 86-85 in favor of CSKA, the Turkish team decided not to foul. Why would anyone would do that you ask? Because now Galatasaray is tied with Lokomotiv Kuban which lost to Real Madrid. The two losing teams are fighting for the fourth and last play offs spot in Group F and next week Galatasaray hosts Partizan and Lokomotiv is waiting for Bayern. If they both get the win, their qualification will be decided by their total goal average, since they both beat each other by just one point in the two Top16 games between them. At this point the total goal average favors Galata (-2) over Lokomotiv (-26) which in order to qualify, has to beat Bayern by 26 points, if Galatasaray gets an one point win over Partizan.
As coach Ataman explained: “We did not foul on our last possession in overtime because Arroyo got injured, he had some pain in his leg, and we used a short rotation of veteran players. By going to second overtime we could have lost by a bigger margin because of tiredness, so we decided to stop at -1 point”. The result at Madrid – the game started later – proved Ataman’s decision right.
For pride: Οlympiacos
Ιn theory this game was a “final” for the Reds. That changed when Fener lost at Vitoria and Olympiacos finally got a good practice in Istanbul, got the 83-78 win and the only thing worth remembering is the first good game of Μardy Collins with four points, five rebounds and five assists.
The disappointment:Fenerbahce/ Ulker
For the second straight season the great ambitions of Fenerbahce/ Ulker went down the drain. And it was painful to watch again. With slim chances of qualification, Fener had to get the road win against already disqualified Laboral Kutxa. The final score was 95-73 in favor of the hosts, the 80% “title guarantee” was not valid and we still trying to understand what exactly happened. Here’s our answer to that question.
Last word: A strange situation
Who could expect that the last Top16 game between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos will not play a role in both teams qualification, but only to the final standings with the home court advantage being out of reach? In this game it will be decided which team will finish third and which fourth in Group E. The third place probably means a play offs match against CSKA, as Real Madrid is the favorite for the top spot of Group F.