Roberto Anidos
por Roberto Anidos publicado en Euroleague

The 10th and final round of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season will decide the last three qualifiers to the Top 16 as well as the final standings that dictate the groups in the next phase. Two of the remaining berths in the Top 16 will be decided among four Group A teams – Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, FC Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Strasbourg – and another between Group D teams Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, among 13 already-qualified teams, 10 will find out their final places, and so their Top 16 opponents, this week

Group A

In a clash of two already qualified teams, Khimki Moscow Region (5-4) hosts first-place Fenerbahce Istanbul (7-2) on Thursday. In six previous Euroleague meeetings between them, the home team has always won. If that trend continues, Khimki would clinch the second place in Group A. These teams boast the Euroleague’s best three-point defenses, with Fenerbahce holding opponents to 27.8% three-point shooting and Khimki 28.8%. Khimki’s defense forces the most turnovers (15.8), as well. Also on Thursday, the first of this group’s two nearly do-or-die contests features defending champ Real Madrid (4-5) and Round 9 MVP Gustavo Ayon against visiting Strasbourg (3-6). Madrid will advance to the Top 16 with a victory. Strasbourg is only sure of advancing if it wins by more than 28 points. If Strasbourg wins by a lesser margin, it will need to wait to get some help from FC Bayern Munich (4-5), which visits Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (4-5) on Friday. If Bayern and Strasbourg win, both qualify, while Madrid and Zvezda are eliminated. In a three-way tie at 4-6, the break would go to Strasbourg (3-1 between them) over Zvezda (2-2) and Madrid (1-3). Bayern or Zvezda will qualify with a win in their game, regardless of the score. Zvezda is eliminated if it loses, while Bayern can reach the Top 16 with a loss and a Strasbourg win. These are the possible scenarios if Strasbourg wins on Thursday and Zvezda wins on Friday: if Strasbourg wins by up to 7 points, Madrid advances; if Strasbourg wins by between 8 and 28 points, Bayern advances; and if Strasbourg wins by more than 28 points, Strasbourg advances.

Group B

With all the Top 16 spots booked in Group B, the top four teams will go head-to-head this week to determin the final standings. On Thursday, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz (5-4) and competition’s rebounding and performance index rating leader, Ioannis Bourousis, host Cedevita Zagreb (4-5). The visitors have a 4-4 all-time record on Spanish soil, but in their only previous visit to Fernando Buesa Arena, back in the 2012-13 season, Laboral won handily, 97-70. Laboral is unbeaten at home this season. On Friday, in another clash of qualified teams, Anadolu Efes Istanbul (5-4) goes on the road against first-place Olympiacos Piraeus (8-1). Efes head coach Dusan Ivkovic pays a visit to Piraeus and the club he led to a pair of Euroleague titles – in 1997 and in 2012. Efes has not won in Piraeus since 2007 and since then the Reds have eight consecutive home wins in the series. Efes has the Euroleague’s second-best offense at 86.9 points per game, and ranks first with 10.9 three-pionters per game and 46.9% accuracy from long range. Olympiacos, on the other hand, has the Euroleague’s best home-court defense, allowing just 56.3 points per contest. Olympiacos is also undefeated at home this season and beat Efes in Istanbul 87-91 after overtime in Round 5. Efes would clinch second place with victory, but if Olympiacos downs Efes once again, the winner of the Laboral vs. Cedevita clash will finish second in the group. Also on Friday, in the last Euroleague games for both teams this season, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan (3-6) hosts CSP Limoges (2-7). Milan come into this game as the winners of two of their last three games, while Limoges has lost four in a row since defeating Milan 74-65 on its home floor in Round 5.

Group C

Things are fairly simple in Group C ahead of Round 10. On Thursday, the winner takes third place and the loser fourth as Zalgiris Kaunas (5-4) hosts Panathinaikos Athens (5-4). Zalgiris makes a league-low 5.8 triples per game, but also allows its opponents just 6.2 threes, third best, and on its home floor gives up just 67.2 points, fourth best. Panathinaikos, which won their Round 5 clash 91-56, leads the league in assists (21.6). On Friday, with first place on the line, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar (7-2) faces FC Barcelona Lassa (6-3) at home. The winner of this high-profile contest will finish first in Group C, the loser second. Lokomotiv has Euroleague’s best defense, allowing 67.7 points per contest, and an even better 59.8-point defense at home. Barcelona’s offense scores 83.1 points on average, and takes the best care of the ball, committing only 9.9 turnovers per game. Also on Friday, two eliminated teams go against each other when Stelmet Zielona Gora (2-7) squares off against visiting Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir (2-7). The winner of this one will end up in fifth place at the end of the regular season. Karsiyaka enters its last Euroleague game of the season shooting league-low 28.9% from three-point land, while Zielona Gora has the second lowest percentage (30.6%).

Group D

In a highly-anticipated Game of the Week clash on Thursday, Euroleague newcomer Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (4-5) hosts Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (3-6), one of the biggest winners in competition history, with a Top 16 place on the line. Darussafaka will advance to the next phase with a victory or a loss by up to 10 points. Due to Darussafaka’s 73-84 win in Round 5, Maccabi has to match or overcome that difference if it wants to continue its streak of never missing the Top 16. On Friday, in a direct battle for the first place in the group, Unicaja Malaga (7-2) hosts the current group leader CSKA Moscow (8-1). CSKA’s lone loss this season came at the hands of Unicaja, a 78-86 decision in Round 5. Since then, CSKA has won four games in a row. CSKA is the best scoring team in the competition (91.4 ppg) and also is 4-0 on the road this season, while Unicaja is 4-0 at home, so one streak will have to give in this one. In the other remaining game of the group, third-place Brose Baskets Bamberg (5-4) hosts winless Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari (0-9) on Thursday. While Dinamo will attempt to escape going out without a victory, Bamberg hopes to snap its two-game losing streak and enter Top 16 on a winning note.

Follow all the drama til the regular season’s thrilling finish on Euroleague.TV and!


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