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Recap after rounds 18 & 19!

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After the double round CSKA try to run away from the group gaining two victories advantage from Fenerbahce and Olympiacos and three from Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Zalgiris Kaunas. Crucial steps also for Khimki Moscow and Maccabi Tel Aviv, while at bottom Armani Exchange Milano, with two victories, left Anadolu Efes alone at last place.

Totally favorable week for Itoudis team, that after 110 points scored at home for the easy victory against Anadolu Efes, conquered a victory at OAKA, interrupted the home unbeaten of Panathinaikos. After a point by point first half (29-31 at 20’), Greens took 10 points advantage during third quarter, but CSKA close the gap at the end of 3rd quarter (51-51) and, with a three pointer of Rodriguez during last minute, closed the game in order to run away at first place.

No middle way for Olympiacos, that after the large home victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv collapsed at Moscow with Khimki for another huge away defeat after -32 at Baskonia’s home previous week, for a total combined differential of -60 in last two defeats. Both games were no contest and already closed after halftime (53-40 at SEF and 49-25 in Moscow).

Sfairopoulos’ team now share the second position with Fenerbahce, victorious against Panathinaikos and Anadolu Efes. The only shot made by Wanamaker during entire game was decisive for give to turkish a crucial victory against Greens, while against Anadolu Efes Obradovic’s team controlled the situation practically for all 40 minutes, taking constantly difference at about 10 points, risking something just during last period, when Douglas and McClollum tried to made a comeback destroied by Wanamaker and Melli.

Very interesting the situation behind Fenerbahce and Olympiacos, with a trio made by Real Madrid, Panathinaikos and Zalgiris Kaunas just one victory distant.

Pascual’s team lost the advantage inside ranking after double thriller defeat against Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow but Real Madrid missed the occasion to overtake after the bad defeats at Unicaja Malaga home, that follow the suffered victory against Baskonia with a buzzer beater made by Rudy Fernandez after 40 minutes of run up. At Malaga game was already difficult for “blancos” (38-27 at halftime) and, after a comeback during third quarter (57-52 at 30’) suffered another break made by Augustine, McCallum and Nedovic that, substantially, closed the game at 2’08” to end (77-74), with Malaga able to control without problems last attempts made by Doncic for comeback.

One defeat and one victory also for Zalgiris Kaunas that keep contact with top team and, above all, took another important step to lock play off’s position. At Bamberg home, after a good first half (37-44 at halftime), Lithuanians’ team suffered the comeback of locals during third quarter, leaded by Rubit, Musli and Hackett (64-61 at 30’) and, after last period point by point, a two pointer by ex Olympiacos and free throws made by Hickman and Wright gave the victory to germans. At home with Valencia the game was almost similar, with great start by Zalgiris (47-31 at halftime) and comeback by spanish during third quarter (63-57), able also to overtake at 4’30” to end (72-73) after a two pointer made by Pleiss. Another break for Zalgiris (83-76 at 1’18” to end) close by two consecutive three pointers by Will Thomas (83-82 at 43 seconds to end) who missed another one for overtake. Free throws made by Pangos and Ulanovas closed the game.

Important double victory for Khimki Moscow for reaffirm their play off’s position, keeping the distance from 9th place. The first at Crvena Zvezda home has had as absolute protagonist Alexei Shved (named also MVP of 18th round) that during last quarter lead the team to made a partial score of 16-27, after 30 minutes of fought match (21-14 at 10’; 37-31 at halftime; 54-52 at 30’), for conquer a big victory, followed by the second one at home against Olympiacos, dominated from jump ball.

After the disaster at SEF, Maccabi Tel Aviv conquered a not obvious victory against Crvena Zvezda thanks above all to a very good first half, with Tyus, Roll and Jackson good protagonists, (49-27 at halftime). During third quarter serbians try to made a comeback, but Spahija’s team controlled without great problems (64-52 at 30’) and closed the game at last period.

Baskonia after the double buzzer beater defeats with Real Madrid and with Armani Milano now is 2 games far from 8th place and was catched by Malaga, while behind them the only significant movement for ranking is for Armani Exchange Milano, that with double victory left the last place, now occupied alone by Anadolu Efes.

Next week for round 20th the unquestionable big match will be played at OAKA between Panathinaikos and Zalgiris Kaunas. Not hard home games, at least according to previews, for CSKA Moscow, with Bamberg, Real Madrid, with Anadolu Efes, and Fenerbahce, with Barcelona, while Olympiacos will fly to Belgrade for face Crvena Zvezda. Khimki Moscow and Maccabi Tel Aviv will try fo find confirmation and confidence going, respectively, at Valencia and Armani Exchange Milano home, with derby between Unicaja Malaga and Baskonia that will be very interesting for last play off’s chances for both.

Ranking after round 19

01 CSKA Moscow 15-4
02 Fenerbahce 13-6
03 Olympiacos 13-6
04 Real Madrid 12-7
05 Panathinaikos 12-7
06 Zalgiris Kaunas 12-7
07 Khimki Moscow 11-8
08 Maccabi Tel Aviv 10-9
09 Baskonia 8-11
10 Unicaja Malaga 8-11
11 Barcelona 7-12
12 Crvena Zvezda 7-12
13 Brose Bamberg 7-12
14 Valencia 6-13
15 Armani Exchange Milano 6-13
16 Anadolu Efes 5-14

Next round (20th)

Thursday 25/01
Panathinaikos-Zalgiris Kaunas h. 21.15
Real Madrid-Anadolu Efes h. 21.45
Unicaja Malaga-Baskonia h. 21.45

Friday 26/01
CSKA Moscow-Bamberg h. 19.00
Fenerbahce-Barcelona h. 19.45
Crvena Zvezda-Olympiacos h. 20.00
Valencia-Khimki Moscow h. 21.30
Armani Exchange Milano-Maccabi Tel Aviv h. 21.45

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