The Euroleague Regular Season has finally come to a close after 10 weeks of competitive basketball. A handful clear cut contenders have emerged, but so have a number of teams capable of making a surprise appearance in the eight-team playoff format. Here are the 2013-14 Euroleague Last 16 qualifiers.
Budivelnik Kiev celebrated their first season in the Euroleague, in which they became the first Ukrainian team to reach the top tier of European club basketball, with a pair of wins. But like fellow Euroleague debutants Nanterre, Budivelnik were unable to navigate a loaded Group A.
Led by the absurdly efficient Bojan Bogdanovic, Fenerbahce Ulker put together an impressive 8-2 record behind an ensemble that averaged a group leading four double-digit per game scorers. Versatile offensive weapons Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica and Bo McCalebb and Emir Preldzic combined to create the Euroleague’s second best offense through 10 games, scoring 119.4 points per 100 possessions.
While both CSKA Moscow- the Euroleague’s second best rated defensive team allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions- and Barcelona enjoyed successful patches en route to identical 7-3 records, Group A’s feel good story was the fight of Partizan Belgrade. They lost starting point guard and key contributor Leo Westermann for the season five games into the 2013-14 campaign and were forced to hand over the ball handling responsibilities to a committee of players ill-suited or too inexperienced for the role. But even a 62-73 final round loss couldn’t keep the Serbian side out of the Last 16, creeping in despite compiling just a 3-7 record.
Real Madrid made light work of a weak Group B, winning all ten contests by a shade under 23 points per game while posting a competition leading 121.9 points per 100 possessions. Nikola Mirotic was unstoppable during the stretch, shooting over 60% from both inside and outside the arc as part of his team-high 15.2 points per game.
An at times underwhelming Milan finished the Regular Season with a 5-5 record to take second position while Lithuanian side Zalgiris Kaunas locked up third position with a close 84-80 win over Brose Baskets, eliminating the German powerhouse in the process. The Bamberg loss enabled Anadolu Efes to sneak into the next round of action with a 4-6 record despite a big final round loss at the hands of Mirotic and Real.
Group C was led by reigning champion Olympiacos, however the Greek’s side undefeated run to the Last 16 proved far more difficult than that of Real Madrid’s- all but two of Olympiacos’ wins were decided by a single-digit margin.
The competitiveness of Group C resulted in a number of entertaining games and it came down to a final second one-handed heave from the right wing by Jason Granger to set the final group standings. Granger’s shot will go down as one of the greatest group stage moments in Euroleague history, but also provided Unicaja Malaga with an unlikely 64-62 win and a spot in the final 16.
Montepaschi Siena fans still probably can’t believe their rotten luck; Siena are eliminated while a lacklustre Bayern Munich snapped a five-game losing streak, embarrassing second placed Galatassaray 88-68 to waltz into the team’s first ever appearance in the Euroleague second round.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv had already secured Group D’s top spot in round nine, but showed zero compassion against opponent Panathinaikos to claim one final win, finishing with an 8-2 record while sending the Greek team from second down to the fourth and final qualifying spot.
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria helped finalise the group standings, edging Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 84-71 to finish second and third respectively.
The Last 16
EA7 Emporio Armani
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
Galatassaray Liv Hospital
Partizan NIS Belgrade
FC Bayern Munich