Zalgiris have qualified for Euroleague’s Top 16 with 87-76 success over KK Zagreb in the final week of the regular season.
A team that were 1-5 after week six and experiencing their fair share of problems off the court as well as on it, bounced back and with vital wins over Unicaja plus a massive win at Brose Baskets last week, they needed a win over Group B’s bottom club, KK Zagreb and they delivered the goods, in-front of a near sell-out crowd at the Zalgirio Arena.
It was pretty clear that this was going to be the team from Kaunas’ night. They led 28-18 after the first quarter and built their lead going into the second period, leading 46-29, ending the game as a contest.
Sonny Weems led Zalgiris with 20 points with Croatian Marko Popovic hitting 17. KK Zagreb who lost their leading scorer Krunoslav Simon early in the first to injury were headed by Mario Kasun’s 20 points.
That win eliminated Brose Baskets, who had the tough task of having to beat Panathinaikos while needing Zalgiris to lose in Kaunas.
Brose Baskets though went down swinging, they lost in Athens to the reigning Euroleague champions 71-66.
The German side though played with so much heart and determination, they led 38-30 at the half, even leading 22-12 after the first. As Panathinaikos, who were already through struggled to contain the all-round team play of the Bamberg side.
The Greeks though found their form in the second half, as Brose began to run out of gas. A 26-15 third period for Panathinaikos was the difference as they led 56-53 going into the fourth they didn’t look back.
Dimitris Diamantidis led Pana with 14 points. Brose were led by 11 points from both Predrag Suput and Brian Roberts.
“We knew that we had few possibilities to make it to the Top 16 and unfortunately we didn’t finish the way we wanted,” Brose Baskets coach Chris Fleming said.
“The home loss to Zalgiris Kaunas hurt us, however I am proud of my players because they tried hard to win tonight.”
Elsewhere, CSKA Moscow ended the regular season perfect as they won at Unicaja Malaga 91-83, topping Group B with a 10-0 record.
Milos Teodosic led from the front for the Russians with 18 points and 10 assists. Unicaja were led by Joel Freeland and Gerald Fitch, who each got 16 points.
“We came out focused, both on offense and defense,” CSKA Moscow coach Jonas Kazlauskas commented. “We came with injury problems and Viktor Khryapa had a temperature. Dispite all the difficulties, we managed to beat a great opponent like Unicaja.”
Regal FC Barcelona ended their Euroleague regular season 9-1, after a comfortable 79-50 win over Galatasaray.
Before the game, there was a standing ovation for former Barca star Jaka Lakovic as he warmed up for the visitors. The Slovenian would only score three points on the night though.
Barcelona, without Juan Carlos Navarro due to injury, cruised into a 23-13 lead after the first and never looked back. Boniface Ndong led the hosts with 16 points overall. Both teams were already through to the next round regardless of the result.
There were road wins for Montepaschi Siena, as they saw-off Asseco Prokom 79-53 in Gdynia. Pietro Aradori led all scorers with 23 points and was the only player in double-digits for the victors. And there was also a road win for Unics Kazan, as they beat Union Olimpija 76-63 in Ljubljana. Henry Domercant led all scorers with 16 points for the Russians.