Euroleague - I Feel DevotionThursday night was always looking like the more exciting night of the two evenings this week and no matter what Friday night in the Top 16 serves up, it is likely that this will be the key night of Euroleague action. Most of the focus fell on Group F but Group E has plenty to offer too.

Group E

There was just the one game in Group E on Thursday and while there wasn’t a lot at stake, the team with less pressure on them managed to pull off the result.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul 91 – Panathinaikos Athens 86

The hosts may not have had anything to play for in this game but Panathinaikos found that their hopes of home court advantage in the playoffs were dashed thanks to this defeat in the final round of the Top 16 in Group E. The Greek side were looking good for a win at one point but a late 13 point reversal saw the hosts grab a win that sees them end a difficult European campaign in good style.

The hosts finish in fifth place with a 7-7 record while the Greeks finished with a 9-5 record and third spot in the group. The away team started stronger and at the break they were 9 points clear with a 43-52 score line. This extended to 13 points at 45-58 but the hosts rallied and a 10-0 scoring run in the third quarter that changed the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, the hosts moved ahead thanks to a Nick Calathes triple pointer and they pulled away from this point.

Dario Saric provided 15 points in the win, Jon Diebler grabbed 13 points, Cedi Osman offered up 12 points, Derrick Brown and Bryant Dunston both grabbed 11 points and Alex Tyus edged into double figures with 10 points. Thomas Huertel grabbed some big points and ended with 9 points and 9 assists. For the away team James Gist, Nick Calathes and Elliot Williams all delivered 14 points each while Dimitris Diamantidis, Miroslav Raduljica and Vladimir Jankovic grabbed 10 points in the loss. There was a double-double from Calathes who also provided 10 assists.

Group F

There was plenty to play for in Group F on Thursday night with three games and two playoff spots up for grabs.

Zalgiris Kaunas 59 – FC Barcelona Lassa 66

Euroleague - FC BarcelonaAn away win sees FC Barcelona seal a place in the playoffs by taking third place in Group. This was a brilliant win for the Catalan club but it was a sore one to take for Olympiacos Piraeus and Brose Baskets Bamberg as the Barcelona win eliminated these teams from the playoff hunt. The hosts ended their European campaign with a 2-12 Top 16 record and there will be not too many happy memories in Kaunas of this season’s European adventures.

Pau Ribas returned from injury and he grabbed 14 points for the winning team with all of these points coming in the second half. Joey Dorsey provided a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds while Juan Carlos Navarro grabbed 10 points in the win. The hosts were boosted with 13 points from Paulis Jankunas, which was a personal best, 11 points from Paulius Jankunas and 10 points from Renaldas Seibutis.

The hosts were 34-28 ahead at half-time but Ribas took control of the game and the Catalan club eased to their vital victory.

Brose Baskets Bamberg 89 – Laboral Kutxa Gasteiz Vitoria 69

There was a very strong win for the German team, adding to their impressive home record in Europe this season but ultimately it was a night that ended in disappointment for Brose Baskets. The away win for Barcelona in Kaunas in the early game of Thursday evening meant that the Germans playoffs hopes were taken from them and there was nothing that they could do about it. They still managed to give their fans plenty to cheer about though with a strong performance over a side that will finish second in the group.

There was never really any doubt about this result; the hosts came out flying, taking a 29-14 lead at the end of the first quarter and this rose to 45-28 at the break. At the end of the third quarter, the away team had narrowed affairs to 63-52 but a positive final quarter for the hosts put them on easy street long before the end of the game.

Daniel Theis provided 21 points and Darius Miller grabbed 19 points in the home win. Jaka Blazic provided 19 points in the loss and three players offered up 11 points in the loss, Adam Hanga, Ioannis Bourousis and Darius Adams.

Real Madrid 83 – Khimki Moscow Region 70

Euroleague - Real MadridIn the end the reigning Euroleague champions did what they had to do and grabbed the win against their closest rivals in the race for a playoff spot. If the hosts lost, they were definitely out, so they couldn’t take their eye off the ball. The earlier game in Kaunas saw a win for Barcelona, which would usually bring displeasure for Real Madrid fans, but it meant that a win would guarantee Real’s passage if the hosts could see out their game with a victory. This was achieved in a reasonably comfortable manner.

Madrid were in control for the vast majority of the game, being 33-28 ahead at the end of the first quarter, with the same five points being the difference between the teams at the break, with the score sitting at 54-49. The third quarter saw Madrid open things up, closing out the third quarter at 66-68 in what was a very low scoring quarter before extending their lead in the home stretch.

Jaycee Carroll offered up 23 points, Felipe Reyes grabbed 18 points, Sergio Lull notched 11 points and Sergio Rodriguez picked up 10 points in the win. For the Moscow side, Tyrese Rice provided 24 points, Petteri Koponen grabbed 13 points and James Augustine provided 11 points in the defeat.