Euroleague: Group F – five teams, three spots

Euroleague Top 16 Group F – it all comes down to Week 14…

After 13 weeks three things are certain: 1). FC Barcelona Regal will win the group and advance to the next round; 2). Fenerbahce Ulker will finish out of the playoffs; 3). Besiktas JK Istanbul will finish out of the playoffs. Other than that, the last five spots are still up for grabs. Five teams, three playoff spots, it all comes down to three games.

After Week 13 the standings show that Maccabi Electra and Olympiacos Piraeus are tied for the No. 2 spot at 8-5; Khimki Moscow Region, Caja Laboral Vitoria, and Montepaschi Siena are tied for No. 4 at 7-6. Three of the Week 14 matchups will have implications in which three clubs continue their Euroleague season, and which two will be done for the season. No. 2 Olympiacos takes on No. 4 Khimki; No. 4 Caja hosts No. 4 Siena; No. 1 Barca squares off against No. 2 Maccabi Electra. The fourth game is between No. 7 Fenerbahce and No. 8 Besitkas.

With so many teams still in the mix, the potential scenarios are seemingly endless (actually, there are eight possibilities) and the tie-breaks run deep. We’ll run a list of those scenarios in a future article.

Friday, March 30
BC Khimki MR – Caja Laboral, 82:86
Caja Laboral came back from elimination and threw the entire group into a mess. With Caja’s win, they move into a three-way tie with Khimki and Siena at 7-6, with the playoff picture to be determined by the Week 14 contests. Caja squares off with Montepaschi Siena next week, at home, to determine which of the two are still in the hunt and Khimki takes on Olympiacos in Greece. Andres Nocioni led the way for Caja with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and a PIR of 24.

This was a tight contest throughout, with the guests definitely playing like their season depended on it. The clubs exchanged the lead for the better part of the quarter, setting the tone for the battle that was to come. Nemanja Bjelica dropped in a jumper at the buzzer to give Caja a three-point lead after one quarter, 19:22.

Q2 provided some highlight reel material with turnaround jumpers, monster dunks, baseline triples and fadeaways in the paint, but when all the points were tallied, the clubs had played to a 24-all tie in the second 10, fixing the margin to the same three it was at the end of the first. The took the trip to the dressing rooms to regroup with a score of 43:46.

Nocioni found his range behind the arc and helped bump the guest’s advantage to 10 deep in the third. James Augustine kept Khimki in the game with points in the paint, but as the horn sounded to head into the final 10, Caja held an eight-point lead, 60:68.

Early in the fourth Caja doubled their lead, getting up 16, 63:79. Petteri Koponen sank a triple starting an amazing comeback by the Russian squad that ended in a 17:2 run and an 80:81 score. Nocioni connected from behind the arc and Paul Davis sank a pair of singles to bring the score to 82:84 with 45.4 seconds to play. Koponen had a chance to knot the score with a floater in the middle, but came up empty.

Nocioni was game-high for Caja with 24, Maciej Lampe added 21. Bjelica contributed 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Fernando San Emeterio scored 10.

David was high man for Khimki with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Sergey Monya dropped in 13, James Augustine and Koponen added 12 each, and Kelvin Rivers tallied 10.

Fenerbahce Ulker – Olympiacos, 73:78
After exchanging the lead for roughly 35 minutes, Fenerbahce built an eight point margin and looked like they were going to further complicate the Group F playoff picture, but the the defending Euroleague champions went on a 13-point run and held on for their eighth win in Top 16 play. The Reds will face BC Khimki MR next week, if they win, they finish in the No. 2 spot, if they lose they’ll be tossed in the mix with the other clubs with eight wins.

Kostas Papanikolaou was game-high for Olympiacos with 16 points. Vassilis Spanoulis added 14 points and 7 assists.

Bo McCalebb, Omer Onan and Romain Sato each scored 12 points for Ulker. Kaya Peker added 10.

Montepaschi – Barcelona Regal, 69:77
Barcelona Regal fought off a late comeback effort by Montepaschi to pick up Top 16 win number 12 on the season.

Siena opened the contest with the first 10 points and built an early 15-point advantage when they got up 21:6 midway into the first 10. By the end of the first quarter though, Barça had put together a 4:17 run of their own to put to within two, 25:23, heading into the second frame. The guests took over the lead and by the halftime intermission held a 40:45 advantage.

By the seven minute mark of the third, Barcelona had a 13-point lead, 48:61, and carried a 55:65 score into the final 10.

Siena battled through the better part of the quarter, chipping away at their deficit and got to within three, 69:72 with just over two minutes to play. Unfortunately, those were the last points the hosts would put up and by the time the final horn sounded Regal had extended out to and eight point lead, 69:77.

Nate Jawai turned in the Week 13 MVP performance for Barcelona, scoring 22 points, hauling in 12 rebounds, and blocking two shots, while amassing a PIR of 34. Joe Ingles added 20, and Marcelinho Huertas contributed 14 points and 6 assists.

Bobby Brown tallied 15 points and 6 assists for Siena. David Moss added 12 points and 5 rebounds, and Kristjan Kangur and Tomas Ress scored 10 each.

Alba Berlin – Zalgiris Kaunas, 77:55
Alba Berlin jumped out to an early 14:6 lead in their Group E contest with Zalgiris Kaunas, and never looked back, adding to their lead in each of the first three quarters.

Alba was led by Deon Thompson’s 16 points, and Derrick Byars’ 12 points.

Zalgiris got 15 points and 5 rebounds from Ksistof Lavrinovic.

Euroleague Group E

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Euroleague Group F

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