Euroleague Weekly Review
Cibona simply collapses!
by Erildas Budraitis
The Euroleague Top 16 stage is over, and we know all eight teams that will compete in the playoffs. Partizan, Real and Caja Laboral jumped on the playoffs train with Barca, Maccabi, CSKA, Asseco Prokom and Olympiakos, who all already secured place during the previous tour.
Before we talk about upcoming playoffs, let’s check what happened in the sixth tour of the Top 16. Marrousi Athens (2-4), who was fighting for a spot in the playoffs, got tripped up by other Athens team, Panathinaikos (2-4). Marrousi lost the game by only 3 points (79-82) and gave a playoffs ticket to Partizan Belgrade.
Real Madrid’s players were also depressed because, they were defeated by Maccabi Tel Aviv in final seconds (64-66). The Royal club, Real, had really good chances of winning the group, but after that loss, they remained in the second place. In the playoffs, Real will meet Regal Barcelona, the team’s biggest enemy.
But this week the craziest things happened in a Group H match, where Caja Laboral Vitoria managed to wrest a win against Cibona Zagreb.
GAME OF THE WEEK
In this Euroleague tour, Caja Laboral, one of the best Spanish teams, found strength to win a do-or-die type game against Cibona Zagreb, 102-90. OK, this Spanish victory is not a big surprise but the most interesting part is how they took this win.
In the beginning, Caja Laboral led by 6 points (18-12) but then Cibona started to play harder and they grabbed the lead. At the end of fourth quarter (38 minute) Cibona was in front by 14 (!) points… And then the Croats simply stopped. Caja Laboral found a way to come close and take the win in overtime. And get a ticket to the playoffs.
The most interesting fact – in first 38 minutes Caja Laboral scored just 58 points and in last 7 minutes – 44 points (24 in overtime!). So the last match’s 7 minutes opened playoffs doors to Caja Laboral.
“This was a game that we must remember. We played in the last minutes like we wanted to in the beginning. In overtime we played with faith, more relaxed and focused,” Dusko Ivanovic, Vitoria’s team head coach said, “I wouldn’t think it’s a matter of luck, I’d say it was a matter of faith. We never gave up, we believed until the end.”
Mirza Teletovic led Caja Laboral with 25 points and 9 boards. Fernando San Emeterio scored 19, Marcelinho Huertas 16. Former Charlotte Bobcats’ and Detroit Pistons’ forward Walter Hermann added 10 points (3/3 FG, 1/1 3PT, 2/2 FT).
Cibona’s leader Marko Tomas scored 23, Vedran Vukusic added 20. Samo Udrih, brother of Beno Udrih, and Jamont Gordon (8 rebounds, 8 assists), former Mississippi State’s team star, both finished the game with 13 points.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
The last Top 16 stage’s MVP prize goes to Montepaschi Siena’s forward Romain Sato. He finishedthe game against Efes Pilsen Istanbul with 22 points and 5 boards (27 index ranking points).
Second place in this week’s ranking was shared by Caja Laboral’s guard Mirza Teletovic and Raul Lopez from Real Madrid (26 index ranking). Teletovic finished the game with 25 points and 9 boards and Lopez’s showed lower numbers – 14 points, 6 boards and 4 assists.
This season biggest stage, the playoffs, will start on March 23. We will see Top 8 Euroleague’s teams and the dessert — the biggest rivalry between two Spanish teams, Barca and Real. Intrigue is guaranteed!
QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFF PAIRS
Real Madrid – Regal Barcelona
Maccabi Tel Aviv – Partizan Belgrade
CSKA Moscow – Caja Laboral Vitoria
Olympiakos Piraeus – Asseco Prokom Gdynia