Playoff picture shaping up, EuroLeague Thursday round up

Panathinaikos have one foot into the Playoffs after they denied Real Madrid a chance of securing home court advantage in the post-season with an 88-82 win in Athens.

Chris Singleton and Mike James stepped up in the final quarter and restored their lead that the hosts held on to in the final minute.

Singleton ended with 21 points for the winners.

“It feels good, especially beating the top team in the EuroLeague this year,” Singleton said.

“Hopefully we continue to get wins, we got four more games to go; they are very big games because of our seeding. It is a very good win, and I’m glad our fans came out.

“I felt tonight our defence was there, we had to concentrate because we knew they got a lot of big players on their team, and we knew we have to come in and fight. We knew we were going to get all they had. I’m just glad we won.”

While one team strengthened its hopes for a place in the Playoffs, the dreams of another team extending their campaign beyond the regular season ended in Istanbul.

Anadolu Efes were 92-87 victors over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv as the Israeli side’s Playoff hopes were extinguished for good.

Jayson Granger starred for Efes with 22 points, 15 of which came in the third quarter as the hosts turned a 42-41 halftime deficit into a double-digit lead heading into the final period.

“I think that we didn’t make a good job in the first 20 minutes, offensively and defensively,” Granger said.

“They had too many transition points, but I think we came up big in the third quarter and scored some three-point shots that we didn’t score in the first half. That was one of the keys. I felt good and the good thing of this team is that everybody is able to help in any moment of the game. It was my turn today and we are really happy for the win.”

Another team whose Playoffs came to an end on Thursday were Brose Bamberg, as they fell 83-78 to Fenerbahce in Germany.

Bobby Dixon led the winners with a career-high 26 points on the night, cancelling out Nikos Zisis’ 15-point effort as he became third all-time for most EuroLeague games played with 279.

Crvena Zvezda claimed a vital 78-71 road win over previously eliminated EA7 Milano as the Serbs boosted their own Playoff chances.

Ognjen Kuzmic led Red Star with 15 points including 11 points in an important stretch for the visitors as they turned the game on its head when the game was tied at 60-60.

“Big win for us,” Crvena Zvezda coach Dejan Radonjic said.

“Very important. I expected it to be a tough game against Milano. We played very, very good at the start of the game, especially in the first quarter, with strong defence and good offence, smart offence.

“We had the advantage at the half, but I knew it wasn’t enough against Milan. They played much, much better in the second half. They put pressure on the ball. We had problems with our organization of the offence. They played very good on offence and we had a lot of problems on defence. And in the last couple of minutes we played well defensively and offensively to win.”