Barcelona booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the Euroleague with a 77-73 success over Red Star Belgrade as the Liga Endesa champions move to 8-3 in Group E.
Red Star had gained the initiative to lead 50-48 after three quarters, but Barca stormed back and an 8-0 run early in the fourth, capped by a three from Juan Carlos Navarro handed the visitors a 64-56 lead, putting them ahead for good.
“We had to work really hard for this win,” admitted Barca’s Tomas Satoransky, who kept his cool to win the game from the line.
“We have to be really concentrated for all 40 minutes and even though we lost control a little bit and didn’t take good decisions, our defense was aggressive all game long and above all, we powered the offensive boards really well. That allowed us a lot of second-chance shots to control the game, but we had to battle until the end.”
Navarro led a balanced Barcelona attack with 12 points, with Boban Marjanovic leading the way for the Serbians with 23 points and 11 rebounds. But despite his numbers, it wasn’t enough to drop his side to 3-8.
Euroleague champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv are close to advancing to the last eight as well after seeing-off Zalgiris 79-72.
Jeremy Pargo equalled his career-high with 26 points as Maccabi go to 7-4 in Group E, while Zalgiris’ hopes take a blow with this loss by falling to 4-7.
Arturas Milaknis hit four threes in scoring 19 for Zalgiris.
ALBA Berlin improved its chances of a quarter-final place as they beat Galatasaray 75-68 at the 02 World in a game unfortunately marred by crowd trouble.
The German side took the lead for good late in the first quarter, and used a 21-2 run that bridged first and second quarters to open up a 31-14 margin.
The hosts cruised with a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, but Galatasaray opened the final period with a 12-0 run, and triples from Ender Arslan got the visitors within 62-61. However, Marko Banic made a couple of big baskets in the final minutes, helping the hosts seal the deal.
Banic led ALBA with 15 points as they improve to 5-6 and stay with a realitic chance of qualification while Galatasaray exit the Euroleague with three games still to play on a 2-9 record.
“It is still possible to make the playoffs,” said ALBA coach Sasa Obradovic. “We think from game to game. Of course, for our club it sends a message, and we want to represent Germany in the best way.”
Despite a poor fourth quarter, Anadolu Efes were deserved 79-75 winners over Nizhny Novgorod in Istanbul in Group F.
Leading 64-52 heading into the fourth period, Nizhny, who looked down and out, all of a sudden sprang into life and enjoyed the better of the quarter. Anadolu though hang on to record the win that breaks their four-game losing streak.
Milko Bjelica finished with 15 points, while Cedi Osman and Stephane Lasme both had 13 in victory as Anadolu Efes go to 5-6, while Nizhny drop to 3-8.
Already qualified CSKA Moscow refused to take their foot off the gas as they convincingly beat Unicaja Malaga 95-77 in the other Group F clash.
Milos Teodosic once again shone as they led the way with 25 points and 8 assists for CSKA. Nando De Colo added 19 in victory.
Without Jon Stefansson, Jayson Granger, Ryan Toolson and Kostas Vasileiadis Fran Vazquez led the way for Unicaja as he scored 14 points, but at 2-9, Malaga are all but out.