Euroleague, Madrid and Efes reach Top 16

EuroleagueIt was a busy Thursday of Euroleague action as two more teams booked their places in the Top 16. Both progressing clubs came from Group A as Anadolu Efes and Real Madrid won away from home to move to the next round of the competition. There were four other games on the night as the Euroleague Round 8 continued after last night’s weekly opener between Bayern Munich and EA7 Armani Milano.

Group A

Zalgiris Kaunas vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul, 57-66
Turkish club Anadolu Efes has been in stunning form in the Euroleague this season and the club moved into the Top 16 with a road win over Lithuanian powerhouse Zalgiris. The victory kept the Turks top of the group with a 6-2 record, while Zalgiris remains in the hunt for one of two remaining Group A qualification spaces in third with a 4-4 record.

It was a mystifying first quarter for the Lithuanian hosts as Zalgiris only notched two points through the 10 minutes, a disastrous period that gave Efes a 2-16 lead at 10 minutes. The Kaunas club resumed normal service in the second quarter to edge the frame 18-16 and make it 20-32 through halftime, but the visitors still had control. In the third stint the teams traded baskets and locked the quarter 16 apiece to put the scoreboard on 36-48 through half hour. In the final stanza Zalgiris made it an interesting game but paid for that terrible start to the contest.

Efes were led Dontaye Draper with 14 points, while Stratos Perperoglou hit 13 points and 8 rebounds. Also registering in double figures for the Turkish team were Donnie McGrath with 12 points and Milko Bjelica with 10 points.

James Anderson was the standout player for Zalgiris Kaunas with a game high 18 points, followed by Paulius Jankaunas with 13 points and 9 caroms in the losing effort.

Nizhny Novgorod vs. Real Madrid, 98-101
Real Madrid bounced back from last week’s loss to Unics Kazan to join Efes in the Top 16 by defeating Nizhny Novgorod 98-101 on the road. The Spanish giant progresses with a 6-2 record, while Russian club Nizhny will need to come back from fifth place and a 3-5 showing.

It was a blistering game in Novgorod that saw both teams pepper the bucket and keep a ferocious scoring momentum throughout. The end to end action started in the opening ten minutes as Nizhny eventually took a run and gun period 23-20. The teams hit net for net during the second quarter and both piled 21 points onto the scoreboard, but at the long break the hosts led the way with the score on 44-41. The high scoring continued in the third act as Los Blancos cut the deficit to a single point at the final stint, using a 25-27 run to make it 69-68 heading to the fourth. In the closing stanza Madrid finally went in front and fuelled a big frame, draining 33 points to ease past Nizhny in the dying minutes.

Sergio Rodriguez led the Spanish visitors with 19 points and 6 assists. Andres Nocioni followed with 15 points and 9 boards for the winners, while Ioannis Bourousis nailed 13 points, Felipe Reyes 12, Rudy Fernandez 11, and Sergio Llull 10 points.

Nizhny were paced by a game high 22 points from Taylor Rochestie and 8 rebounds. Backing him up were Tarence Kinsey with 20 points and Semen Antonov with 16 points.

Group B

Limoges vs. Unicaja Malaga, 67-64
French club Limoges kept its Top 16 hopes alive by downing Spanish guests Unicaja Malaga at home. The hosts broke a five game losing streak, but still stay bottom with a 2-6 record, but they can catch Malaga in third on 4-4. In this must win game for the French contingent it was not looking good early on as Unicaja stormed through the first stint to lead 8-17 at the end of Q1. In the second the Spanish team continued to dominate with a 13-17 run that made it 21-34 at the midway buzzer. Limoges finally woke up in the third frame to win it 22-12, making it 43-46 with just the final act to come. In that period the home team found the buckets that mattered and stole the game thanks to a big second half.

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. ALBA Berlin, 95-89
Reigning Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel Aviv took out ALBA Berlin at home in a big scoring encounter that saw the Israeli powerhouse bounce back from last week’s thrashing at the hands of CSKA Moscow. Tel Aviv now holds second in Group B with a 5-3 record, while ALBA holds the all-important fourth place on 3-5. Maccabi blew away the cobwebs from last week by going big in the first quarter to lead 25-19 through ten minutes. In the second period the Berlin visitors responded with hot scoring to put together a 17-27 run that made it 42-46 at halftime. In the third quarter Tel Aviv found another gear to outpace the Germans 26-17, making it 68-63 after half hour. It was anybody’s game in the fourth and both teams went for it, but the hosts edged the frame 27-26 to win the game.

Group C

Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul vs. Panathinaikos Athens, 84-62
Fenerbahce swept aside Greek giant Panathinaikos in Turkey on Thursday. The club now holds second place in Group C at 6-2, while Panathinaikos will fight on from third place and a 5-3 record, both teams had already qualified for the Top 16. The two European heavyweights locked through the first quarter and traded for the lead before tying 18-18 after 10 minutes. Fener matched their first quarter score in the second while The Greens could only manage 14 points to make it 36-32 at halftime. The hosts streamed in 31 points and held Panathinaikos to 16 in the third period to take command of the scoreboard through thirty minutes (67-48). A routine win was completed by the Istanbul club as they eased through the fourth frame.

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