Round 4 of the Euroleague Top 16 proved to be one of the most exciting weeks of Euroleague action in recent memory as we were treated to stunning basketball, last second victories, crushing wins, and heartbreaking losses.
It has been a tough start to the Top 16 for Fenerbahce Ulker despite the team sweeping through the Regular Season. After three losses the Turkish team got back to winning ways with a home triumph over Panathinaikos Athens on Thursday by holding on to grab a 77-72 victory. Fener handed the Greek team its first loss in the Top 16 thanks to a nail biting finish in which Linas Kleiza netted twice for the hosts in the final minute to seal the win. Panathinaikos stays in second place in the group with a 3-1 record while Fenerbahce improves to 7th with 1-3.
FC Barcelona remains the only team unbeaten in Group E after the club clashed with Unicaja Malaga in an all Spanish contest. Barca outgunned Malaga 83-79 on the back of a 18-2 run after trailing after three quarters; once again the Spanish giant is finding form in the Top 16 (Barcelona has won its last 16 games at this stage of the Euroleague). Bostjan Nachbar top scored for the winners with 13 and added a vital and decisive three in the final stages to send Barca top of the group at 4-0. Malaga drops to 5th with a 2-2 record.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul grabbed a 61-60 victory over EA7 Emporio Armani Milan in what was one of the most memorable finishes in Euroleague history. The Turkish hosts trailed for most of the game, but a 17-2 run got the team back in contention with seconds remaining on the clock. Milan´s Keith Langford missed the second of his free throws to leave the score at 58-60 with just 3 seconds on the left. Efes guard Zoran Planinic arched a three quarter court prayer off the board and into the net to seal a remarkable win as the buzzer sounded around the Abdi Ipekci Arena.
After losing the last two, reigning Euroleague champions Olympiacos got back on the road to victory by downing Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 70-89 on the road. It was a comfortable evening for the Greek giant as it put together one of the best ever scoring halves in the history of the Top 16 (second to the 61 scored by Electra Tel-Aviv last season) by netting a massive 59 points during the first half. Matt Lojeski scored 16 of his 17 point haul in the first half as the visitors cruised through the second to record a routine win.
CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid, 85-71
11,000 people packed inside the Nokia Arena in Tel-Aviv as Maccabi Electra´s Euroleague campaign continued to gather pace with an 86-67 win over Partizan Belgrade. The Israeli hosts had the game won in the first half thanks to a 37-10 run that put the team in charge for the rest of the game. Alex Tyus was quality from the bench with 100% two point shooting (8 from 8) and 16 points, while Tarence Kinsey and Bogdan Bogdanovic got 17 apiece in the losing effort. Maccabi Electra moves to the top of Group F with an unbeaten 4-0 record and has now won its last 8 Euroleague games.
Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul traveled to Germany and held off FC Bayern Munich to grab an important 66-72 win. Gala picked up its first win of the Top 16 to go 6th in the group with a 1-3 record, while Bayern stays in 4th at 2-2. The visiting team led for much of the game as Carlos Arroyo paced them with a game high 21 points and was backed up by Zoran Erceg with a double-double 19 point plus 10 rebound game.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar left it late to see off Zalgiris Kaunas 80-75 in Russia on Friday evening. Krunoslav Simon was instrumental for the winners as he collected 21 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, but the hosts had to work hard for the win. Indeed, Zalgiris led for most of the game but a fourth quarter comeback sealed the win for this season´s surprise package.