Regular Season, Round 8: Parade of six qualifiers march to Top 16!
Six more teams punched their tickets to the Top 16 in an active an exciting Week 8 that featured blowouts and overtime thrillers, four road winners and one historic milestone. In all 10 teams have secured their place in the next stage and the remaining six could go down to the last minutes of Week 10. The only group where all four spots have been settled in Group A after Unicaja eliminated Air Avellino 72-68. Marcus Hailsip led the way with 17 points as Unicaja survived a stern test from Avellino.Olympiacos crushed Cibona 93-64 as Nikola Vujcic scored his 2,000th career point in the Euroleague, joining a select group of basketball stars. Maccabi Electra ran over Le Mans 73-87 as Carlos Arroyo, Lior Eliyahu and Omri Casspi shared the spotlight with 19 points apiece. Olympiacos and Unicaja lead the group at 6-2, but Maccabi and Cibona are only one win behind. That foursome will all play in the Top 16, but the order among them is still a question. And in the next game after the winter break, Unicaja visits Cibona and Maccabi hosts Olympiacos. A great surprise was registered in Group B when Regal FC Barcelona blasted Montepaschi 87-61. The shock was not necessarily in the result as much as in the fashion. Barca led 25-3 after 10 minutes as it coasted to victory and first place in the group at 7-1. Meanwhile Panathinaikos cruised past SLUC Nancy 83-69 as Stratos Perperoglou registered career highs of 16 points and 8 rebounds. The Greens advanced to the Top 16 and matched Montepaschi for second place at 6-2 with a head-to-head clash in Siena looming after the break. Zalgiris zapped Asseco Prokom 79-68 for its first win to set up an exiting battle for fourth place in the group. A tie remains for first place as the two co-leaders in Group C both won and moved into the next stage. Tau Ceramica topped Alba Berlin 68-73 to become the first team to beat the German champs at the o2 World arena – home of this season’s Euroleague Basketball Final Four. League-leading scorer Igor Rakocevic netted 24 – including 3 clutch free throws that helped decide the game. Lottomatica Roma edged Union Olimpija 74-69 in overtime behind a monster game from Sani Becirovic that included 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and several key points in the extra period. Wednesday’s lone Group C encounter was in Istanbul, where Fenerbahce Ulker routed DKV Joventut 89-63. The reserves for FB Ulker combined for 51 points. In Group D, there was a rare result in the Russian capital, where Real Madrid defeated CSKA Moscow 78-82 behind a strong effort from Felipe Reyes. It was just CSKA’s second loss at home in the last two years. Reyes paced the winners with 19 points. CSKA is the only team in the group to have already advanced and the other results didn’t settle much as one win separates four teams for third place. On Wednesday Armani Jeans Milano bested Partizan Belgrade 73-59 and 24 hours later Efes Pilsen beat Panionios On Telecoms 64-78 in Istanbul. Partizan, Milano and Panionios are all tied for fourth place at 3-5 – one win behind Efes. And the drama there will continue after the break with more tense-head-head duels on tap.