The story of Friday in the Euroleague involved a club that did not even take part in any of the action on the night, Zalgiris Kaunas. The Lithuanian giant had opened this week’s Euroleague action with a victory on Wednesday and qualified because of other results tonight, despite being idle.
In the other news, Group A remained compact and open for business with three qualification places still to fight for. In Group C there were shocks for the two runaway teams in the standings, while in Group D Malaga slipped to its second defeat of the competition.
Crvena Zvezda Belgrade vs. Khimki Moscow Region, 96-91
Aside from already qualified Fenerbahce in first place, Group A is wide open after Crvena Zvezda edged Khimki in a real thriller in Belgrade. The victory was enough to lock Crvena Zvezda with Khimki and Bayern Munich on 4-4, all clubs tied for second. Even Strasbourg and Real Madrid on 3-5 can still qualify despite being out of the picture currently.
Maik Zirbes and Quincy Miller scored Euroleague career bests of 27 and 25 points, respectively to plunder half of the points that the hosts tallied. Belgrade were behind 50-53 through the long break and 68-69 after thirty minutes, but it had been a back and forth encounter throughout. In the fourth quarter Red Star edged the game with a decisive 28-22 run.
Strasbourg vs. Bayern Munich, 69-82
Bayern Munich took down Strasbourg at home to move to 4-4 and remain in the hunt, but despite the loss French club Strasbourg can also progress from 3-5 in fifth place, but will need to win its remaining two games.
Bayern dictated the game throughout and looked far superior on the hardwood, carving a 15-21 lead through ten minutes and then extending to 29-48 through halftime. The hosts could not find the anything in the third as Munich continued to dominate for a 40-66 lead after thirty minutes. Strasbourg poured in 29 points in the fourth to keep it respectable, but the German guests were out of sight for the win.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Stelmet Zielona Gora, 51-66
Lokomotiv produced its shakiest performance of its Euroleague campaign so far, slipping to a home loss at the hands of Stelmet Zielona Gora. The Russians have already qualified, while the win for the Polish champs means they live to fight another day from 2-6 at the bottom of the Group C standings.
Stelmet stunned the hosts out of the gate with a 13-24 run in the first quarter and consolidated through the second act with a 14-16 run that made it 27-40 at halftime. The double digits lead was maintained as Lokomotiv simply failed to spark in offence, the Russians producing just 24 points in the second half, losing at a whimper.
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Barcelona, 93-86
Panathinaikos clicked at the right time to give already qualified Barcelona the blunt end of its best Euroleague display of the season, enough to put the Greek team in pole position for the last Group C qualifying spot with a 4-4 record. Results in the group today sent idle Zalgiris Kaunas through to the top 16.
The teams traded buckets in the first quarter, but Barcelona edged the period 21-22 before Panathinaikos took control in the second. Q2 saw the hosts outplay Barca to the score of 24-13 for a 45-35 halftime lead. The visitors repeated their victory in the first quarter to steal a point back, the scoreboard reading 66-57 through three frames. In the final act the guests continued to press and certainly made it interesting, but Panathinaikos ultimately held on.
Darussafaka Istanbul vs. Unicaja Malaga, 63-57
Unicaja Malaga was handed its second Euroleague loss of the season thanks to a solid home performance from Darussafaka in Istanbul. Already qualified Malaga will breathe easy despite the loss, while the Turkish home team moves to 4-4 and is now on the brink of qualification in fourth.
The hosts doubled Malaga’s score in the first act to lead 20-15 at the opening split, but a tense second frame allowed the visitors to address some of the balance. At the midway buzzer Darussafaka led 30-28. A 15-20 run for Unicaja in the third stanza gave the Spaniards a 45-48 advantage with ten minutes remaining. The Istanbul contingent dug deep in the fourth and produced a comeback and settled the game in their favour.