By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Top16 is history, the play offs are coming, but, boy, did the finish had some twists. From the three pointer of Spanoulis to the 36 points of Dentmon and the win of Zalgiris Kaunas over Real Madrid, the play offs couples turned to be the following (the teams written first have the home court advantage): Real Madrid – Olympiacos, Barcelona – Galatasaray, CSKA Moscow – Panathinaikos, EA7 Milano – Maccabi Tel Aviv. So let’s get to the point about what happened on the courts.
He is the best excuse Real Madrid has for its 87-80 defeat at Kaunas. The player who is already turning heads around the elite European clubs had 36 points on 7/11 threes, 4/5 two pointers, 7/7 free throws, 5 rebounds, 3 asists, 2 steals and 6 turnovers. It was his best game in the season, it was a big win for his team and it decided the play offs opponent of Real.
- Vaggelis Mantzaris:Even if 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists doesn’t seem much, check also the stats of the player he stopped. Dimitris Diamantidis had one of his worst nights with 2 points, 0/6 FG, 4 assists and 5 turnovers in the 68-65 win of Olympiacos.
- Justin Dentmon: A great game by a great player…
- Krunoslav Simon: He did the best he could with 18 points in the 84-75 win of Lokomotiv over Bayern but it wasn’t enough to get his team to the play offs.
- Andres Nocioni: Even with Laboral Kutxa already eliminated he ended Top16 in style with a big road win against Barcelona (97-86) and 37 points in 28 minutes of action.
- Furkan Aldemir: With Mensah – Bonsu out, he had a great game with 13 points (6/6 FG), 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 22 minutes of action in the 64-55 win over Partizan which send Galatasaray to the play offs.
Best losing performance: Juan Carlos Navarro
The game of Barcelona against Laboral Kutxa had two very different halves. In the first, Barca was leading 50-35 in the first half and Juan Carlos Navarro had a 20 ranking after the first quarter without missing a three. He ended the game with 25 points, with 5/13 FG, 11/11 FT but couldn’t give his team – which had already secured the top spot of Group E – the win (97-86).
Biggest win: Galatasaray
The Turkish team did what it was expected, beat Partizan (64-55) and secured a play offs birth, despite a season full of injury woes and unlucky breaks. The defending champions of Turkey became the only one from the three participants teams of the same country which managed to get to the play offs of Euroleague and that’s not a small thing.
The shot: Olympiacos
A thrilling game that was decided by a big shot which will be remembered. Spanoulis decided with a three pointer the 68-65 win of Olympiacos over Panathinaikos and proved once again that you can’t underestimate the heart of the champions. It was a win needed for the Reds, not necessarily for Euroleague – even if the general consensus in Greece is that CSKA is a more desirable play offs opponent than Real Madrid- but also for the rest of the season and the more than probably Greek league finals match up against Panathinaikos.
The return: EA7 Milano
Unicaja got the 95-85 win over Milano, the result didn’t change anything in the standings but what matters from this game is that Keith Langford was back in action and scored 22 points on 32 minutes of action. So he will be there in the play offs, against his former team Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Milano is trying to be present at the Final Four which will be held in their city.
The future: Fenerbahce/ Ulker
This Euroleague season was a disappointment for Fener, even in the last moment there was the Preldzic incident, but the team is already planning its future and in the 84-65 win over Efes a new hope was presented. His name is Berk Ugurlu, he debuted and the 18 years old guard in 30 minutes had 12 points on 6/8 shots, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Not bad at all.
Last word: The choice
Who would expect that Real Madrid would lose at Kaunas? We didn’t – you can check the title in our last night round up – and very few did. So the next question is the following: Did Real Madrid chose to lose in order to face defending champion Olympiacos instead of Panathinaikos in the semifinals and then the winner of the game Barcelona vs Galatasaray in a possible Final Four semifinal? It’s difficult to answer. What should be easy is for Euroleague to schedule from now on all Top16 last week games to start the exact same hour, in order to do the best possible to avoid such shadows in the future…