Euroleague: two more progress to Top 16

EuroleagueZalgiris Kaunas opened Round 8 of the 2015/2016 Euroleague on Wednesday with a win over Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir at home, and on Thursday there were six contests. Friday will complete the Round 8 picture and we will have a clearer view of the Top 16 too as a further five games will take place before next week’s penultimate round.

Group A
Real Madrid vs. Fenerbahce Istanbul, 80-73
Real Madrid used home court advantage to take out Group A leader Fenerbahce and keep itself in the hunt for a qualification place. The reigning champs have been awful so far in their title defence, but 10,000 fans roared Los Blancos to 3-5 in the standings, which is game on for the next two rounds. Fenerbahce has of course already qualified for the Top 16.

Turkish giant and Group A form team Fenerbahce threatened to end Madrid’s campaign after storming to a 36-45 lead at halftime, fuelled by 28 points in the first quarter. Madrid slowly worked back into contention though, and a 20-10 third act run handed the hosts a 56-55 lead through thirty minutes. In the fourth Los Blancos used the momentum to finish the contest and stay alive in the Euroleague.

Group B
Cedevita Zagreb vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul, 75-81
Anadolu Efes reached the Top 16 with a fightback against Cedevita Zagreb to ensure that Group B is now locked for business and no more qualification places are up for grabs.

Efes led 13-17 through ten minutes on the hardwood, but Cedevita scored 26 points in the second and 26 points in the third to blow the game open. After three frames the hosts led comfortably at 65-57 and looked good for the win. However, Anadolu Efes knew a win here would mean qualification and the Istanbul visitors rallied from a ten point deficit in the fourth, using a 2017 run to turn the game around and collect the victory.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria vs. Limoges, 92-56
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria moved into the Top 16 with a huge home win over French club Limoges, pushing the Spanish club to 5-3 in second place.

The hosts dominated from the first tip off and led 29-15 after a big first frame. Vitoria continued the momentum in the second frame with a 25-14 run that made it 54-29 through halftime. The game was already beyond Limoges, but the French visitors could not even restore pride as the Laboral Kutxa kept pressing in the third and fourth stanzas to record a crushing win. Darius Adams led the win with 23 points, while Ioannis Bourousis collected a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Olympiacos vs. Milan, 73-63
Olympiacos’ 73-63 home win over EA7 Armani Milan was enough to send the Italians crashing out of the Euroleague this season, while it also ensured Laboral Kutxa Vitoria progressed. Olympiacos tops Group B, the Greek club with a 7-1 record.

Milan could keep its hopes alive but is eliminated with a 2-6 record, despite leading 25-29 during the long break. The Italians held on in the third as Olympiacos tied proceedings 48-48 after thirty minutes on the hardwood, but Milan’s resistance failed in the fourth. The Greek home team drained 25 points to Milan’s 15 in the fourth frame to finish big and claim the spoils. D.J. Strawberry paced Olympiacos with 16 points and 9 rebounds.

Group D
Banco di Sardegna vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv, 74-76
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv edged to a narrow 74-76 road win over already eliminated Dinamo Banco di Sardegna to keep its Euroleague hopes alive. The Israeli giant and former champ has had a torrid campaign, but now has a fighting chance from fifth place and a 2-6 record. As for Sassari, the Italians remain the only club without a win (0-8).

Consistency during the opening twenty minutes saw Tel Aviv pour in 20 points in the first and second quarters for a 33-40 lead at the midway buzzer. The visitors consolidated during the third act to have a 52-57 advantage with just 10 minutes left on the clock. In the final quarter Sassari threatened to fightback, but a chance to tie the game at the buzzer missed its target and Tel Aviv survived to fight another round.

Brose Baskets Bamberg vs. CSKA Moscow, 88-100
Both these clubs have qualified, so a show was put on in Bamberg as CSKA run riot over a hot on the heels German host. The win kept CSKA top of Group D with a 7-1 record, which Bamberg stays in third with a 5-3 record.

Both teams showed incredible consistency at the bucket, but visiting team CSKA just had the edge, winning the first half 47-51. Indeed, the Russians plundered over 20 points in each frame and in the second half just kept pulling away from Brose Baskets Bamberg, although the German hosts should be credited for never giving up the fight. The heavy scoring of Moscow was summed up by Nando De Colo with 27 points, while the playmaker added 11 assists for a classy double-double. Cory Higgins tabbed 23 points in the win, while Nikita Kurbanov also doubled up with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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