Barcelona defeated Bayern Munich 99-77 at the Audi Dome to qualify from Group C of the Euroleague.
Out of the four groups, Group C was by far the toughest looking group, but Barcelona have passed the test with flying colours as they improve to 6-0 in the group, while dropping Bayern further out of contention on a 1-5 record.
Leading 22-17 after the first quarter, the visitors stormed out of the blocks in the second by hitting 38 points in ten minutes to breeze clear at half-time, leading 60-39. Bostjan Nachbar and Juan Carlos Navarro did the majority of the damage in that devastating spell, combining for 22 points – the same number the German champions got in the entire quarter.
We are happy for this win,” Barca coach Xavi Pascual said. “We played a good game. We took our first lead late in the first quarter, then played a great second quarter, hitting shots and playing really well, using quick transitions. That allowed us to get a big lead at half-time.
“In the second half, we started very well and soon got important leads. Bayern played with character and pride until the end of the game. We managed to keep our lead and get an important win. We circulated the ball well and got a lot of fast break points. We had 24 assists, a very important number, and hit over 40 percent of our three-point shots, which is something we didn’t do in our last couple of games.”
Nachbar, Navarro and Marcelinho Huertas led Barca with 15 points in what was a well-balanced scoring attack, where Brad Oleson was the only player not to register a point for the Catalan side. Nihad Djedovic led Bayern with 14.
The other two games in Group C saw Fenerbahce close in on a place in the Top 16 after they mustered a solid 80-74 win over EA7 Milano on the road.
Ricky Hickman led Fenerbahce with 14 points as they move to a 4-2 record. The team needed to step up as Milano’s defensive priority seemed to be targeted at Euroleague’s leading scorer Andrew Goudelock. That worked well as he was limited to just five shots all night for 9 points, but the other four came good, as well as the bench.
“We knew coming in that Milan was a tough team and were playing with their backs against the wall,” said Hickman. “We knew it would take a 40-minute effort. We made runs, they made runs, but I think we did a good job of keeping our composure down the stretch.”
Marshon Brooks led Milano with 17 points, as the Italians drop to 2-4.
Panathinaikos also look good to advance from Group C after they beat PGE Turow in Poland 79-69 to move to 4-2.
Loukas Mavrokefalidis paced the winners with 21 points. James Gist added 16 and Nikos Pappas scored 14 for Panathinaikos. Tony Taylor and Chris Wright each had 13 points to lead Turow, who are now at 1-5 and looking likely to head out.
Olympiacos have qualified to the Top 16 from Group D after beating Valencia [1-5] 77-76 in a thrilling contest at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The Reds move to 6-0 but needed a clutch three-pointer and free throw from Vassilis Spanoulis with 36 and 11.5 seconds respectively to get the job done. Olympiacos had one last scare as a three-pointer from the corner by Nemanja Nedovic was adjudged to be shot after the buzzer.
Spanoulis had 15 points to lead the 2012 and 2013 winners.
Neptunas heaped more misery on Laboral Kutxa after they picked up an 80-79 win in Klaipeda in the other Group D clash.
Simas Galdikas scored the game winner with 13 seconds left. Neptunas raised its Group D record to 3-3, while dropping the Liga Endesa side to 2-4.
Donatas Zavackas and Mustafa Shakur had 16 points each for the winners, while Thomas Heurtel exploded for 31 points, which included hitting eight three-pointers out of 10 attempts.
The third team to advance to the Top 16 is CSKA Moscow as they put on a show in their 95-66 demolition of ALBA Berlin in Group B in the Russian capital.
Nando De Colo scored 22 points for the now 6-0 CSKA as they raced out to a 28-11 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Aaron Jackson added 18 points in an exciting individual display. ALBA drop to 2-4.
Champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv are close to qualification from Group B as well, by beating Limoges 79-73 on the road, as they moved to 4-2. However, they did have to come from behind in the final two minutes to get the job done in France.
Leo Westermann ended the third quarter with a hail mary from near his own three-point line, and that seemed to spark Limoges into action as they led for chunks of the final period before Maccabi asserted their dominance to get the win.
“It was a tough environment to play in,” said Maccabi’s Sylven Landersberg, who led with 22 points.
“Any time you play on the road is hard. They are a talented team that can score the ball. So, we did a good job defensively; we were able to hold them to what we wanted to, and convert on offence. In an arena like this, you definitely have to concentrate more on the shots, and be ready to shoot.”
Unics Kazan edged out Anadolu Efes 67-64 in Russia to secure a vital mark in the win column in Group A.
Keith Langford led the winners with 19 points as his game-winning free throws sealed the deal for the Russians, who now move to 2-4, while dropping Anadolu Efes to their second defeat of the regular season.