Crvena Zvezda send champions on the verge, Euroleague hangover

Euroleague Basketball

Crvena Zvezda completed a monumental 94-88 victory over Euroleague champions Real Madrid in Belgrade in Group A as the holders drop to 2-5 and face a very real prospect of elimination.

Maik Zirbes led Red Star with 26 points and Quincy Miller supported with 24 as the Serbians boosted their chances of qualification to the Top 16 as they improve to 3-4.

“We knew Real came here in a situation where they are struggling to reach the Top 16, just like us,” said Crvena Zvezda coach Dejan Radonjic. “They are Euroleague champs, but we believe, and no one could take away our hope.

“We played an excellent game. There were periods of lack of concentration when Real had huge leads. Many were thinking the story was over, but we showed our strength. Prior to this game we played to school players, and tonight they were good pupils.”

Sergio Rodriguez and Gustavo Ayon both paced Real Madrid with 16 points but now need to win their remaining three games in order to stand a chance of progressing.

Panathinaikos never trailed but ultimately hung on to best Pinar Karisyaka Izmir 69-66 in Group C.

Nick Calathes hit a game-winning three-pointer and James Gist came up with a clutch block with 20 seconds to go as the Greens secured their first road victory of the regular season and go to 3-4 in the group, good enough for a share of third place.

James Feldeine netted 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Panathinaikos. Pinar Karisyaka, who were fronted by Colton Iverson’s 14 points drop to 2-5.

The other Group C encounter saw Lokomotiv Kuban lead Zalgiris 53-17 at half-time before easing on the brakes and recording an 80-50 win in Krasnodar, good enough for a spot in the Top 16.

Leading 28-14 after one, Lokomotiv held Zalgiris to just three points in the second to end the game as a contest and send the Russians to the next round.

“I’m happy with the energy our players showed today,” said Lokomotiv Kuban coach Georgios Bartzokas. “After that we cooled down, and it’s normal when you’re leading by 36 points. It’s also normal for the fair play.

“We have three games left and we’ll try to finish the group stage at the highest place. We also need these games to work on our continuity and improve our position in the VTB League.”

CSKA Moscow secured a hard-fought 93-87 win at home to Dinamo Sassari who become the first side eliminated from the competition after dropping to 0-7.

The Italian side though did not make life easy for CSKA and it took the Russian champions to eventually break clear of their opponents in the third quarter before holding on for the win.

Milos Teodosic led CSKA with 21 points as they go to 6-1 in Group D.

Brose Baskets advanced to the Top 16 after they claimed a 65-54 road win against Darussafaka Dogus in the other Group D game.

Daniel Theis led the winners with 13 points as they improve to 5-2.