The biggest game of the week in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague saw Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul host Crvena Zvezda Belgrade to decide which club would grab the final Play-Off position. The final round of the Regular Season delivered plenty of excitement.
Both Darussafaka Dogus and Crvena Zvezda are dark horses this season. Neither club was widely predicted to make the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Play-Offs, especially with giants like Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv missing out. However, both teams have been simply excellent, but ultimately it was the Darussafaka fans celebrating.
There were also three other contests on Friday to close the Regular Season action.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul vs. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, 78-62
Darussafaka cruised passed the Serbian champs at home to leap frog their opponents to finish in 8th. Both clubs have the same 16-14 records, but the Turkish team qualifies based on its wins over Belgrade. It’s a cliché, but both these teams deserved to qualify. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade must now pick itself up to defend its Adriatic League title in the finals series. In this game, the Serbian team was just not good enough, with Darussafaka controlling long spells, especially in game-defining first and fourth quarters.
Brad Wanamaker led the win with 22 points, while Scottie Wilbekin secured 16 points in the win.
Ognjen Kuzmic took 14 points in the losing effort, followed by Charles Jenkins with 12 points.
David Blatt, head coach of the Istanbul club, explained how this is a massive achievement for the club:
“It wasn’t going to be easy. You’ve all seen Zvezda the whole year, how tough they have played every team, how competitive they are. In the EuroLeague in general you are not going to find too many easy games, and certainly not a game of this importance. But you know I thought we deserved to win. I thought we played great basketball, particularly on the defensive end, and for good portions of the game offensively, as well. We shared the ball. We tried to play like a team that wants to play together, and that’s important. We were down and out a little bit. We lost just a brutal away game to Milan after being up 25, and everything kind of looked grey. We had to win a bunch of games in order just to be in a position to qualify. This is a momentous moment for this team. Darussafaka is not a EuroLeague staple. We’re a newcomer. And to be amongst the elite eight in the best league in the world outside the NBA, that’s something really special.”
CSKA Moscow vs. Olympiacos, 90-86
With nothing to lose, current EuroLeague champs CSKA Moscow and former champ Olympiacos threw caution to the wind in a high scoring contest. Second ranked CSKA took out third ranked Olympiacos with consistent scoring led by Nando De Colo and Milos Teodosic with 23 points apiece.
EA7 Armani Milan vs. Unics Kazan, 68-91
Unics Kazan had not won in 12 rounds before this contest, a losing streak that goes back to January. The Russian club at least managed to end its continental season on a high with a win over also-eliminated Milan. Unics has been in awful form. Not even the best scorer in the competition could help the team. Keith Langford grabbed a quite-by-his-standards 13 points here to finish his season with a league-leading 22.1 average. Langford is likely to finish as the best scorer, although Nando De Colo could still catch him.
Real Madrid vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul, 97-80
Real Madrid showed why alongside CSKA Moscow it is favourite for the title by beating Anadolu Efes Istanbul. It is worth mentioning that the Turkish club is no pushover and is also in the Play-Offs. However, Madrid made this look like a stroll to complete the campaign as the Regular Season champion.
With the Play-Offs now decided, the best of five series’ will begin April 18 and 19:
Real Madrid vs. Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Fenerbahce Istanbul
Olympiacos vs. Anadolu Efes
CSKA Moscow vs. Baskonia Vitoria