It was a day for pride in the Euroleague Top 16 as Round 14 of the second group phase was completed, in the process bringing to a close the Top 16. The Playoffs now await successful teams, but with both Group E and Group F closed for business before tonight, this was an exhibition night in the Euroleague.
In Group E, Unicaja Malaga gave its continental campaign a fitting send off by defeating Top 16 runaway form team Fenerbahce of Istanbul. Another Istanbul based club, Darussafaka Istanbul, completed its maiden voyage in the Euroleague with a victory of Playoffs club Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. Indeed, all the qualified club slipped during the closing day in Group E, with Crvena Zvezda Belgrade falling to eliminated Cedevita Zagreb.
CSKA Moscow continued its formidable charge in Group F, downing Euroleague giant Olympiacos Piraeus, with the Greek team leaving the competition early this season.
Unicaja Malaga vs. Fenerbahce Istanbul, 71-67
Unicaja Malaga closed a disappointing Top 16 campaign with a win over Group E winners Fenerbahce at home. The Spanish team used a big 16-9 second quarter to build a lead that the guests could not come back from in the second half. Jack Cooley set the tone for the winners with 17 points and 9 rebounds as the hosts held strong and largely shut down Fenerbahce’s usually dangerous offensive game.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul vs. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, 87-86
Just a single point decided this contest as Darussafaka edged Lokomotiv in an entertaining thriller in Istanbul. The hosts had felt the force of an in touch Lokomotiv team in the first half and looked to be on course for a home court beating through halftime (38-47). However, Darussafaka stormed back during a classy second half and closed out the visitors in the final minute.
Cedevita Zagreb vs. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, 83-62
It has been party-time in Belgrade since Crvena Zvezda was ensured of its first ever Playoffs berth after Anadolu Efes Istanbul lost on Thursday. The Serbian champs made history, but ended the Top 16 campaign with a heavy loss at the hands of Cedevita Zagreb. The Croatians were playing for pride and Jacob Pullen got the message as he paced the hosts with 22 points towards a cruising home win, propelled by 52 points in the first half.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. CSKA Moscow, 96-99
The shock of this phase has been the demise of multiple former Euroleague champion Olympiacos, sitting alongside Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Regular Season elimination as shock of the season. The Greek club had the chance to leave on a high, but even a stunning home performance could not stop Group F winners CSKA Moscow. The Army Men were trailing 64-69 through thirty minutes, but plundered 35 points in a dynamic fourth act to complete a comeback.