The playoff race in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague is heating up and understandably so. Three of the eight playoff berths are already spoken for by Fenerbahce, Real Madrid
Round 26 started on Thursday with five games and as expected, there was no lacking for exciting basketball action. One game in particular was of significant importance for two teams deep in the hunt for their respective playoff berths.
Sixth-placed AX Armani Exchange Milano downed a struggling Olympiacos Piraeus 66-57 at home. They improve their record to 14-12, thus improving their chances to advance, while Olympiacos slides to a precarious 13-13, just one game ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv and possibly Greek rival (playing tonight), Panathinaikos.
Armani got off to a good start and were paced by Vladimir Micov who played aggressively on the offensive end in the beginning. As the game progressed, their top scorer, Mike James, took charge as he heated up. He finished the night with 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and four 3-pointers. He’s been their bread and butter on offense all season, so as long as James stays healthy Armani is a team that should not be taken lightly.
Olympiacos was a mess offensively as they failed to get any kind of rhythm going. They shot a dismal 2-for-16 from downtown and could not match what Armani was putting out on the other end of the floor. The 57 points scored in this game was a franchise record-low for Olympiacos.
Definitely, there is something amiss with Olympiacos right now. Whether it’s on the organizational level and trickling down to the context that the players take to the court or not, something has to change if they want to progress in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. For many seasons now, Olympiacos as has been a mainstay in the playoffs and even a threatening contender in most cases. It’s a shame that whatever they are going through at the moment is smearing a blemish on their storied European basketball legacy. All is not lost, at least not yet, as they can still make the playoffs but if and only if they get their act together.
Here are the other results from the first half of Round 26 in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague:
- Maccabi Tel Aviv 71-79 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
- Khimki Moscow Region 75-100 Real Madrid
- Zalgiris Kaunas 85-79 FC Bayern Muenchen
- Herbalife Gran Canaria 84-64 Darussafaka Istanbul