The 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season reaches more dramatic highs in Round 9 this week. As many as 10 teams have already made it to the Top 16 but all of them have to keep fighting for the best possible finish at the end of the phase. With just three teams eliminated, the remaining 11 squads will fight for six open Top 16 spots. Half of this round’s 12 games are scheduled on Thursday, followed by the other half on Friday
It’s a Friday of high drama in Group A. In the Game of the Week, Real Madrid (3-5) visits FC Bayern Munich (4-4) in a critical showdown for both teams. Bayern qualifies to the Top 16 with a win, regardless of any other scores. Madrid cannot qualify this week but would avoid elimination and increase its Top 16 chances – with a 2-0 record against a direct opponent – with a victory. Already-qualified Fenerbahce Istanbul (6-2) hosts Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (4-4) in another pivotal showdown. Fenerbahce will lock up first place with a win. Zvezda can qualify with a victory if Bayern wins, too. In that scenario, Madrid – the reigning Euroleague champion – will be eliminated. Khimki Moscow Region (4-4) visits Strasbourg (3-5) in a decisive game, too. Khimki will reach the Top 16 with a victory due to its tie-break advantage against Madrid (2-0) and Zvezda (1-1, +33) in all multiple ties. Strasbourg could be eliminated with a loss, depending on other results. All three games will be played on Friday.
Three teams have qualified to the Top 16 and Cedevita Zagreb (4-4) may be the fourth if it beats EA7 Emporio Armani Milan (2-6) on Thursday. Cedevita will also qualify if it loses by up to 8 points, as it registered a 68-77 road win in Milan. Conversely, Milan must win by 9 or more points to carry its Top 16 hopes into the 10th and final round of the regular season. Already-eliminated Limoges CSP (2-6) will look for a prestigious home win against Olympiacos Piraeus (7-1) on Thursday. It will be Limoges’s last Euroleague home game this season before the French powerhouse joins the 2015-16 Eurocup Last 32. Olympiacos will clinch first place with a win or if Anadolu Efes Istanbul (4-4) downs Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz (5-3) at home. If both Olympiacos and Laboral win, Olympiacos will finish first and Laboral second regardless of other remaining results.
Three teams have made it to the Top 16 and a fourth one could join them this week, none other than Panathinaikos Athens (4-4), which hosts Stelmet Zielona Gora (2-6) on Friday. Panathinaikos will reach the Top 16 with a win, either this week or the following one against Zalgiris Kaunas (4-4). If Zielona Gora wins, however, it would have a 2-0 record against the Greek powerhouse and would keep its chances alive until the end of regular season. FC Barcelona Lassa (6-2) and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (6-2) are fighting for first place, but it will not be decided until next week, when both teams will meet again in Russia. Barcelona hosts Zalgiris with a chance for the hosts to secure at least second place with a win. Lokomotiv travels to Izmir to face Pinar Karsiyaka (2-6), in what will be the hosts’ last Euroleague home game this season before the team joins the Eurocup.
CSKA Moscow (7-1) hosts Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (4-4) in a critical game for the guests. Darussafaka will qualify to the Top 16 in its Euroleague debut season if it wins or if Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (2-6) loses against already-qualified Brose Baskets Bamberg (5-3). In that case, Maccabi would miss the Top 16 for the first time since its creation in the 2002-03 season, leaving Barcelona and – if it qualifies – Panathinaikos as the only teams to survive the regular season in 15 consecutive seasons. CSKA could clinch first place this week if it wins and Unicaja Malaga (6-2) loses on the road against Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari (0-8). If Darussafaka loses and Maccabi wins, however, a do-or-die showdown for a Top 16 berth will take place in Istanbul a week later. Unicaja will clinch at least second place if it wins and Maccabi beats Bamberg.
A lot of drama is expected everywhere, with many do-or-die showdowns all over the place. Make sure you follow all the action on Euroleague TV, on our Twitter account – @Euroleague – and of course, right here on Euroleague.net!
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