There is just one Friday night left in the regular season of the 2015/16 Euroleague campaign and there is only one Top 16 spot left to be decided. There will hopefully be some excitement left for the last run of games in the Euroleague schedule for 2015 but Thursday night certainly provided a few spills and thrills for fans across the continent.
There were two games in Group A and we were treated to a late, late winner and a demolition job to allow the reigning Euroleague champions progress to the Top 16, so there was a lot of drama.
Khimki Moscow Region 68 – Fenerbahce Istanbul 70
This was supposed to be a game where there was not an awful lot riding on the outcome of the group but when you get the match-winning points scored with less than 5 seconds on the clock, you know that you’ve witnessed a fairly exciting night. The hosts are currently in second place in Group A with a 5-5 record, more than enough to send them to the Top 16 while the Turkish side tops the group with an 8-2 record.
Bogdan Bogdanovic was the man who split the teams with 4.9 seconds left on the clock. The game was level at half-time and it was a close run thing throughout the game. Jan Vesely grabbed 19 points for the winners, Bobby Dixon had a massive fourth quarter, finishing with 16 points in total and the match-winner Bogdanovic provided 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists all in. Ekpe Udoh also offered up 11 points and 3 steals. For the hosts, Tyrese Rice provided 19 points in total, 15 in the opening quarter, Alexey Shved provided 16 points and Zoran Dragic scored 13 points in the loss.
Real Madrid 97 – Strasbourg 65
In the end, the reigning Euroleague champions managed to book their place in the Top 16 with a bit to spare and they celebrated with a demolition of Strasbourg in their final game. With a 5-5 record, their place in the Top 16 is assured although their final ranking in the group won’t be decided until Friday evening. The away team finish bottom of the group with a 3-7 record.
The hosts were never really in doubt on a night when Jeffrey Taylor grabbed 16 points, Sergio Rodriguez provided 14 points while both Trey Thompkins and Felipe Reyes grabbed 12 points. The hosts were also boosted by Jaycee Carroll and Jonas Maciulis who both grabbed 10 points each. Real Madrid set a new record for assists in the Euroleague with 36. Six different players all managed to deliver at least 4 assists. For the losing team, Rodrigue Beaubois provided 17 points and Vladimir Golubovic provided 10 points and 9 rebounds.
There was just the one game in Group B on Thursday but there was a good deal of pride at stake, so there were plenty of people looking in at this one.
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz 92 – Cedevita Zagreb 70
The hosts were the winners and while they don’t know if they will finish second or third in the group, they do know that they have now clocked up 200 wins in the Euroleague! Laboral become only the sixth team to claim this milestone and they have a 6-4 record in Group B this season. The away team have a 4-6 record and take fourth place in the group. The hosts were in control from early on and had a 45-29 lead at half-time.
Fabien Causeur grabbed 20 points, Ioannis Bourousis provided 17 points and Tornike Shengelia offered 16 points. For the losing team, Marko Arapovic scored 12 points while Miro Bilan offered up 19 points and 6 rebounds.
Third and fourth spots were decided in Group C on Thursday with the one game going right to the wire.
Zalgiris Kaunas 72 – Panathinaikos Athens 75
It was a big night in Lithuania as the away team grabbed a crucial win that sees them finish in third place in the group with a 6-4 record. The hosts have to settle for a 5-5 record and fourth place, which is still enough to send them to the Top 16. The hosts held a slim 36-34 lead at half-time and were up by 6 after half an hour.
However, 67-66 was the last lead the Lithuanian side held before Panathinaikos stepped it up and took control of the game. James Feldeine and Nick Calathes both grabbed 14 points for the winners while Sasha Pavlovic provided 12 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Zalgiris were led by Olivier Hanlan who grabbed 19 points and Paulius Jankunas provided 13 points and 11 rebounds.
There was the bizarre sight of both teams deliberately missing chances in Istanbul on Thursday night but this is what the final round of the Euroleague regular season can do to you!
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 66 – Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 70
The home side lost but it was their fans that were celebrating at the end of this game. The away team grabbed a brilliant on the road victory but at the end of the game, they were the ones feeling deflated at the outcome of the game and the group.
Both of these teams finished with a 4-6 record but the 4 points win for Maccabi Tel Aviv wasn’t enough to claim the head to head advantage, and it is the team from Istanbul who take fourth spot and the last Top 16 spot from the group. The Israeli side will now have to settle for a spot in the Last 32 of the Eurocup, and this is the first time they will play in this stage.
The away team managed to grab a 6 points lead in the third quarter but they needed around double this to qualify and the hosts were always close enough to be relatively untroubled. There was something a bit different near the end of the game though. Knowing that there wasn’t enough time to win by the required margin, Maccabi tried to force overtime, so they started missing shots intentionally. Darussafaka weren’t falling for that though and in the end, Maccabi won but fell short in their plans.
Sylven Landesberg grabbed 14 points, Jordan Farmar offered up 13 points, Taylor Rochestie provided 12 points and Trevor Mbakwe grabbed 9 points and 10 rebounds. For the happy losers, Furkan Aldemir grabbed 12 points, Jamon Gordon grabbed 11 points and Milko Bjelica provided 10 points.
Brose Baskets Bamberg 86 – Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 54
The hosts rounded off their regular season in great style with a comfortable win over the Italians who finish with a 0-10 record. This is the first time a team has gone through a regular season without a win since Cibona Zagreb in the 2010/11 season.
Nikos Zisis provided 16 points for the winners, who finish on a 6-4 record. Both Janis Strelnieks and Daniel Theis provided 12 points for the hosts. All of the 11 Bamberg players got on the scoresheet and Lucca Staiger grabbed 10 points. For the away team, MarQuez Hayes helped himself to 14 points.