Euroleague - I Feel DevotionWith a good number of games already completed in Round 8 of the 2014/15 Euroleague, the Top 16 is starting to shape up. On Thursday night, four more teams booked their place in the knockout stage of the tournament. Anadolu Efes booked their place with a win over Zalgiris and Real Madrid clinched their place by defeating Nizhny. Maccabi Electra overcame Alba to clinch their spot and Unicaja found that even though they lost to Limoges, they booked their passage.

There were also other games on Wednesday and Thursday night, as the group stages head to the wire.

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan v FC Bayern Munich 83-81

This game was played out on Wednesday night, and it was always likely to be a close affair. Both teams knew that a win was vital to maintain their hopes of winning through to the Top 16, and the match wasn’t settled until 1.5 seconds to go. This came when Daniel Hackett sunk a two point shot, giving the Italian side the lead.

Milan moved on to a 3-5 record in Group C while Bayern now hold a 1-7 record. With just games left, it is all but certain that Bayern will be missing out on the Top 16 action. The game saw a total of 23 lead changes, with 11 of these coming in the final quarter of the game. There were also a significant amount of ties in the game. The tight nature of the game was shown by the fact that Bayern lost their head coach thanks to two technical fouls, this coming before half-time. With less than a minute to go, Bayern led, with two free throws from Bo McCalebb making a difference.

Hackett grabbed a total of 25 points in the game, with 22 coming in the second half. Joe Ragland served up 13 points and Alessandro Gentile worked hard for the Italian side as well. With Linas Kleiza and Samardo Samuels also serving up double figures, the Italians were too strong for their German opponents. Heiko Schaffartzik grabbed 13 points for Bayern, Nihad Dedovic offered up 11 points and John Bryant and Dusko Savanovic both offered 11 points.

Nizhny Novgorod v Real Madrid 98-101

This was another game that went to the buzzer and with Real Madrid moving on to a 6-2 record, they are now assured of qualification to the next round. Nizhny dropped to a 3-5 record, which means that they still have work to do to qualify. Sergio Rodriguez managed to break into double figures, grabbing 19 points and he was assisted by Andres Nocioni with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Ioannis Bourousis offered up 13 points, Felipe Reyes grabbed 12, Rudy Fernandez picked up 11 points and Sergio Llull offered up 10 points and provided 9 assists, which equals his career best. With that amount of fire power on display you would have thought that Madrid would have been out of sight but Novgorod offered up some fine attacking power as well.

Taylor Rochestie led for Nizhny, with 22 points but an injury meant that he was unable to complete the game. Tarence Kinsey provided 20 points, Semyon Antonov offered up 16 points, Art Parakhouski picked up 12 points and Evgeny Baburin grabbed 11 points. With just three minutes on the clock, the home side held a 83-80 lead but Madrid turned that around with a 0-8 run but the home side rallied and with less than a minute to go, the gap was down to one. This led to Llull serving up some excellent free throws before Filipe Reyes delivered a big rebound that shut the game down for the Spanish giants.

Dinamo Banco Di Sardegna Sassari v Unics Kazan 68-72

Euroleague - Unics KazanRound 8 has already served up a number of tight games and this was another one. Kazan held on, and are looking strong in their battle for a Top 16 spot. They have now grabbed three wins in a row under their new coach, and the team moved on to a 4-4 record. This record sees them level in Group A with Zalgiris Kaunas but Sassari now hold a 1-7 record, and this means that they will be playing in the Eurocup 32 after New Year.

D’or Fischer picked up 23 points and 15 rebounds while James White provided 14 points and Curtis Jerrells provided 11 points for the winners. Sassari were boosted by David Logan grabbing 17 points, Rakim Sanders picking up 12 points and Edgar Sosa offering up 10 points.

Zalgiris Kaunas v Anadolu Efes Istanbul 57-66

In a low scoring match that was extremely tense, Efes booked their place into the Top 16 in a game that set a new record in the Euroleague. The away team only gave up 2 points in the first quarter, a regular season record and it was also the lowest number of points in the entire history in the Euroleague for a first quarter match.

Efes now hold a 6-2 record while Zalgiris hold a 4-4 record. Dontaye Draper was the key player for the winners with 14 points and he was assisted by Stratos Perperoglou, who provided 13 points and 8 rebounds. James Anderson provided 18 points for Kaunas, with 15 of these points coming in the final quarter while Paulius Jankunas provided 13 points and 9 rebounds.

Limoges CSP v Unicaja Malaga 67-64

This game saw the hosts managing to overturn a twenty point deficit and in doing so, they broke a give game losing run, and kept their hopes of a Top 16 place alive. This moved Limoges on to a 2-6 record in Group B while Unicaja now hold a 4-4 record. This was the fourth loss in five games, so things have turned around badly for Malaga after a strong start. However, Unicaja managed to grab a tie-break advantage over Limoges, which sees them qualified for the Top 16, so there were mixed emotions at the end of the game for both teams.

Jamar Smith offered up 18 points for Limoges while JP Batista provided 14 points. Their causes was also helped by Nobel Boungou-Colo offering 12 points, 4 assists and 7 rebounds while Adrien Moerman provided 9 points, 3 steals, 3 assists and 11 rebounds. Ryan Toolson offered 15 points for Malaga while Stefan Markovic provided 11 points. The game went to the wire with Unicaja missing a shot at the buzzer.

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv v Alba Berlin 95-89

The current Euroleague champions managed to book their spot in the Top 16 with Devin Smith grabbing 26 points and Brian Randle offering up 21 points. This win moved Maccabi on to a 5-3 record while Berlin dropped to a 3-5 record, even though Jamel McLean offered up 16 points and 9 rebounds. Alba were also boosted by Cliff Hammonds grabbing 15 points and Reggie Redding provided 13 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Marko Banic offered up 12 points and Leon Radosevic offered 10 points for the German side.

Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul v Panathinaikos Athens 84-62

Fenerbache improved their chances of grabbing a top two spot in Group C with a strong 84-62 win against Panathinaikos. Andrew Goudelock offered up 18 points for the winners while Semir Erden provided 14 points and 7 rebounds. They were assisted by Jan Vesely, who grabbed 12 points and Ricky Hickman who hit 10 points. For the Greek side, AJ Slaughter provided 20 points.