Real Madrid back on track, Euroleague hangover

Euroleague Basketball

Euroleague champions Real Madrid beat Fenerbahce 80-73 in the Spanish capital to stay alive in Group A of the regular season.

Real [3-5] now must continue this winning mentality next week against Bayern Munich in order to keep themselves in contention or face the possibility of elimination.

“It is an important win and I see my team is better than some weeks ago,” said Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso.

“We kept our chances to make it to the Top 16 even though we have injuries – Andres Nocioni’s injury does not look good right now. I don’t discard the possibility of looking for players in the market. We lost Chapu [Andres Nocioni] during the game to a shoulder injury and were a bit limited, but the team showed great heart, winning a difficult game against a great team. We were able to come back, play good basketball and work hard to get that win.”

Sergio Llull had all of his 17 points in the final 16 minutes to lead the winners. Jan Vesely led Fenerbahce with a game-high 20 points as they go to 6-2 in Group A with a Top 16 place already confirmed.

Another of the Euroleague giants fighting to stay alive in the competition is Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv after they edged Dinamo Sassari 76-74 in Group D.

Seemingly down and out, Sassari left themselves with a fighting chance with 37.7 seconds remaining when they narrowed the gap to two points, but that was as good as it got. Maccabi improved to 2-6 and while their chances of qualification are slim, they’re not impossible.

Sylven Landesberg led the winners with 19 points.

The other Group D game saw CSKA Moscow record a 100-88 win over Brose Baskets in Bamberg to improve to 7-1 and score their tenth straight win over the German side.

Nando De Colo hit 27 points and dished 11 assists for CSKA but both sides have already secured their passage to the Top 16 despite the outcome.

Anadolu Efes are the latest team from week eight to advance to the Top 16 after they overcame Cedevita Zagreb 81-75 in Croatia in Group B.

Cedevita looked on course for victory until Anadolu used a 17-2 fourth quarter run to rally from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to snatch victory.

Dario Saric led the way with 16 points plus 10 rebounds for Anadolu.

The Turkish side’s qualification was confirmed when already qualified Olympiacos defeated EA7 Milano 73-63 in Piraeus.

Tied at 48-48 after three quarters, Olympiacos, missing Vassilis Spanoulis, took over in the final period thanks to DJ Strawberry, who hit nine points in the final ten minutes for the Greeks.

Strawberry ended with 16 points to lead the 2012 and 2013 champions.

Elsewhere in Group B, Laboral Kutxa had no trouble in beating Limoges 92-56 in Vitoria.

Darius Adams posted 23 points, including five three-pointers in the win.

The lone Group C game saw Zalgiris bounce back from last week’s embarrassing loss to Lokomotiv Kuban with a comfortable 74-52 win over Pinar Karisyaka Izmir in Kaunas.

Mantas Kalnietis paced Zalgiris with 17 points as they improve to 4-4 and near to Top 16 qualification.

“We gave all our energy at the end,” Kalnietis explained. “Maybe at the beginning we were too anxious and wanted to finish the game a little bit too fast, but our defence was at the best level and that’s why we won.”

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