Round 28 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague on Friday was a day of dead rubber games as all playoff berths have been taken. Still, when the best clubs in Europe lock horns, fireworks happen. With that in mind, there were some riveting contests to close the week’s action, including victories for Unicaja Malaga and Real Madrid in the dying seconds against Olympiacos and Crvena Zvezda respectively. Fellow Spanish club Valencia did not fare so well, slipping to Panathinaikos on the road. Finally, CSKA Moscow suffered a rare loss as the runaway league leaders were downed by Zalgiris Kaunas.
Unicaja Malaga 87-85 Olympiacos Piraeus
Reigning EuroCup champs Malaga edged out Olympiacos in an overtime thriller. The win does little for the Spanish club as it is already eliminated from the playoff picture. However, Malaga does improve to 12-17 on the success. As for Olympiacos, the already qualified Greek giant fell to sole possession of third place with a 19-10 showing. Incidentally, this was a big night for Olympiacos veteran and playmaking superstar Vassilis Spanoulis, who broke records to become the best assister in EuroLeague history.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 79-82 Real Madrid
Real Madrid is closing the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague regular season on a high. The former champ and already-qualified team saw off Crvena Zvezda Belgrade on the road to move to 18-11in fourth place. Crvena Zvezda will be departing the competition when Round 30 wraps and slipped to 11-18 in the standings. The game was tied at 79-79 with six seconds on the game clock, but Luka Doncic struck from downtown to close out the win for Los Blancos.
Zalgiris Kaunas 85-73 CSKA Moscow
CSKA Moscow has been the best team in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this season, and comfortably so. However, Zalgiris showed on Friday the Russian giant can be hurt and in the knockout stages of the playoff, who knows what can happen. The Lithuanian champs won this clash of qualified clubs with a blistering final quarter, moving its record to 17-12, continuing its best continental season in years. As for CSKA, the guaranteed first placed team falls to 23-6. The story here is all about that fourth act, when Zalgiris exploded through a 16-0 run to blow the game apart.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 75-56 Valencia Basket
Panathinaikos Athens is one of the clubs still hunting for home court advantage in the playoffs. The already qualified Greek team downed eliminated Valencia to enhance its position to 18-11 in a tie for fourth place with Real Madrid. As for Valencia, the reigning Spanish league winners have failed to come to terms with the EuroLeague and now sits on an 11-18 record. There’s no doubt the elite nature of the competition needs a learning curve, so Valencia needs to consistently qualify to improve its position.