Real Madrid secured home-court advantage in the Euroleague quarter-final playoffs as they defeated Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 86-75 in the Spanish capital to improve to 10-2 in Group E of the Top 16.
Madrid can clinch top spot in Group E if they beat arch-rivals Barcelona next week on the road.
“We were really focused in the opening minutes and got a double-digit lead, explained Real’s Sergio Llull. “Maccabi is great team and got closer, but we managed to control the game. We are happy with this win.
“We changed several things after the break; this is Maccabi, the reigning champion, a great team, really physical, which a lot of defensive traps that make you struggle a little bit. We controlled the game rhythm and that allowed us to win.”
Jaycee Carroll led Real with 18 points, while Maccabi, now 7-5 were paced by Brian Randle’s 17.
Panathinaikos connected on six of its 13 three-point attempts in the fourth quarter to beat Galatasaray on the road 86-84 in the other Group E encounter
The hosts had an opportunity to take the game to overtime, but Justin Carter fluffed his lines from the foul line with seven ticks left, allowing the Greeks to amazingly run the clock out without a Galatasaray player going for the desperation foul.
So, with the victory in the bag, Panathinaikos moves to 7-5, with Esteban Batista and James Gist collecting 14 points to lead the Greens. Galatasaray drop to 2-10 with this loss. Patric Young led all in defeat with 24.
Despite the win, Panathinaikos coach Dusko Ivanovic was unhappy with the overall showing.
“We didn’t play good tonight,” he said. “It was very important game for us. For Galatasaray, it was a more normal game, but they were a serious opponent to us. We weren’t really serious tonight. Especially in defence, we made a lot of mistakes.”
Despite trailing by as many as 15 in the second period, CSKA Moscow dug out of a hole and came out with an 86-82 road win over Nizhny Novgorod in the all-Russian clash in Group F.
In what was a must-win for Nizhny, they all but end their hopes of a spot in the next phase as they drop to 3-9, while already qualified CSKA go to 10-2 as they close in on home-court.
“It was a disaster in the first half defensively,” said CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis, who saw his side trail 55-42 at the half before holding Nizhny to just 7 points in the third.
“I think we changed the attitude defensively and we showed the way. In the third quarter we did contest all the shots; we committed on every drive. On any open shot, we [went] and contested; we didn’t give anything easy. I think that the key was our effort defensively.”
Sonny Weems paced the winners with 21 points.