A thrilling opening to Round 9 of the Euroleague Regular Season left just one club remaining with an unblemished record in the competition this year. That accolade goes to CSKA Moscow, but the Russian powerhouse scraped to victory over Unicaja Malaga on the road, taking the win after overtime.
Barcelona’s untouched record was snapped as the Catalan club slipped at home to an inspired Fenerbahce effort, while it was another thriller that went into an extra period. There we also wins for Bayern Munich, Maccabi Tel Aviv, EA7 Milan, and Neptunas on the night.
There’s only one place left up for grabs in Group B and ALBA Berlin currently holds possession of that coveted fourth place. The Germans will clash with Limoges tomorrow night in a game that could decide the fate of fourth place. However, for the time being Cedevita Zagreb remain in the hunt despite losing 71-82 at home to reigning champs Maccabi Tel Aviv. The Croatia club is last in the standings with 2-7 record and needs a lot of things to go right from now until the end of the Euroleague Regular season next week. As for Tel Aviv, the Israeli’s nailed down second place in the group after a big final quarter on Thursday that decided the game.
Elsewhere in Group B CSKA Moscow continued to dominate the standings by moving to 9-0 after a 75-76 road win over Unicaja Malaga. The game was every bit as close as the scoreboard suggests, with the teams locking through regulation to tie 66-66, with CSKA’s Sonny Weems hitting the vital game tying basket. In the added period the Russians edged the game to maintain the formidable run so far in the competition.
EA7 Milan Punched its ticket to the Top 16 with a 66-64 home success over already qualified Panathinaikos Athens. The Italian hosts grabbed the last qualifying spot in the group on the back of a 21 point display by Daniel Hackett, although oddly no other Milan players registered in double figures. EA7’s win meant that Bayern Munich’s 95-89 win over PGE Turow was in vein as the Germans were eliminated with one game left to go in the Euroleague Regular Season. Bayern had faint hope of qualifying and did the job against the down and out Turow, but it was too little too late. Worth a mention is Dusko Savanovic who was like a man possessed for Munich, draining 31 points through the game and 14 in the final act to give the hosts the win.
The big game of the night was actually a dead rubber as two qualified teams clashed. It still proved to be a shock though as Fenerbahce travelled to Barcelona, took the Spanish giant to overtime, and then came away with the win. It was the first loss handed to Barca in this season’s Euroleague Regular Season, but of course the team had already qualified. Fenerbahce can still top the group in theory, but the Turkish powerhouse will need 110 points over Barcelona’s score in the next round. Barcelona’s roster struggled to hit consistent buckets, but Marcelinho Muertas (25 points) and Deshaun Thomas (23 points) were sensational as they plundered 48 points for the hosts. However, the metronome like attack of Fener proved telling through the overtime period as the visitors edged the win.
Neptunas Klaipeda and Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul clashed in a Group D contest that went a long way to deciding which team will take the last Top 16 berth. Both teams entered the game on equal 3-5 records, but Neptunas won 82-72 to take the initiative heading into the final week of this year. After winning the first quarter 22-19, the hosts never looked out of control, although they waited until the fourth stanza to really seal the win and make it comfortable.