CSKA Moscow book Playoff spot, EuroLeague Thursday round up

Led by Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow became the first team to qualify for the EuroLeague Playoffs by seeing off Galatasaray 85-69 in the Russian capital.

De Colo poured in 22 points to lead CSKA as they recovered from a 17-13, first quarter deficit to burst clear in the following period as a 12-0 run put the hosts ahead and they never looked back.

“We were not afraid, but you need to be ready for every game,” De Colo said.

“We knew that the EuroLeague is really tough this year and every game is like a final. We now got our rhythm and need to keep working on it. For the moment, the most important thing for me is that I help the team the most I can.”

The loss leaves Galatasaray all but eliminated from playoff contention, but mathematically they are still involved.

Baskonia solidified their Playoff credentials as they beat in-form Fenerbahce 79-74 in Istanbul.

The Liga Endesa side, who routed Fenerbahce at home earlier in the season, improved to 14-11 to keep its spot in the playoff zone.

Fenerbahce, which was missing All-EuroLeague center Ekpe Udoh, saw its five game home-court winning streak snapped as it fell to 16-9, but remains in fourth place.

Shane Larkin led Baskonia with 19 points.

“We’ve been struggling to get wins on the road all year,” Larkin said.

“[Fenerbahce] is such a great team, so to come here and get a big win, it was huge. Every single game in the EuroLeague is tough; we just have to come out with the same defensive intensity, play together and just keep winning games.”

Barcelona ended its three-game losing streak as they defeated strugglers Unics Kazan 70-62.

The win keeps Barcelona in the hunt for a Playoff spot whereas Unics, who were without leading scorer Keith Langford, were already eliminated.

Stratos Perperoglou led the winners with 13 points and Victor Claver added 12.

Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv ended EA7 Milano’s slim Playoff hopes with an impressive 92-82 win in Israel.

Maccabi improved to 9-16 on the season and mathematically can still finish in the top eight if it keeps winning and results keep falling its way.

On the other hand, Milan, which did not have head coach Jasmin Repesa on the sidelines due to sickness, and also missed its key backcourt players Mantas Kalnietis, Krunoslav Simon and Zoran Dragic due to injuries dropped to 7-18 and was officially eliminated from Playoff contention.

“In preparing this game we said we did not want to rush anything,” said Maccabi coach Ainars Bagaskis.

“If we don’t have really good situation on offense, then we have to play longer positional offence, use it to find good shots and quickly get back on defence because Milan is really experienced and knows how to use situations of what opponents do.

“When we played like that, when we did not rush things, took extra time to find situation outside and inside in the paint, generally everything was okay.”

Victor Rudd paced Maccabi with 17 points.

Zalgiris bounced back from a 14-point deficit to keep its Playoff challenge alive with a 64-58 victory over Panathinaikos.

The Lithuanian champs improved to 11-14, while the Greens dropped to 14-11.

Leo Westermann was the outstanding individual performer with a game-high 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.