Fenerbahce are in free fall while the Greens and the Blaugrana served up another gem. Take your mind off the FIBA World Cup for a minute and take in this week’s edition of The Dish.
The top two in Group E squared off in the OAKA and at half-time it looked like the Blaugrana would stroll out with an easy W. Fortunately, the fixture Panathinaikos vs Barcelona rarely serves up such straightforward fare. Dimitris Diamantidis nailed a huge three at the end of the third and we were all set for a grandstand fourth quarter. And then…nothing. In a frame low on offence, Barcelona did enough to get over the line with reasonable comfort, the Greens go down 56-63 at home.
Had this group started out differently, we’d be talking about that result as a game the Greens could really have done with winning. Instead the team in crisis is coached by the man who brought four Euroleague titles to the Athens club. Fenerbahce were first hand witnesses to EA7 Milano establishing their playoff credentials. Linas Kleiza dropped 26 for Fener but they got nothing from the bench and that lack of support cost them on the road. Fenerbahce are now bottom of Group E, two games back in the playoff race after just five games.
Over in Group F, Real’s roar wasn’t quite as resounding as this column predicted a week ago. I genuinely feared for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, despite their quality. After losing in Moscow, I expected nothing short of a big time performance from Real. Instead we got a business like display. They got the result, with the W establishing a three-way tie at the top of Group F.
CKSA carried on where they left off last week with a big win over FC Bayern. The Moscow club was expected to win but going to Munich and dropping a 25 point shellacking deserves some respect, especially for a team that has struggled with consistency this season. That loss is bad new for Bayern, who drop to 2-3 after opening the Top 16 2-0.
Fortunately for FC Bayern there’s now a week off as Euroleague breaks for national cups. When they come back they will resume battle with, as it stands now, Lokomotiv Kuban and Galatasaray for fourth. Kuban pulled out an important away win at Partizan to take fourth place outright entering the break, while Galatasaray ensured that Zalgiris remain winless in the Top 16.
The Copa del Rey will take most of the neutral eyeballs in the coming week but the overall performances of teams on the fringes of playoff contention will bear plenty of notice next week.
Looking way ahead to the fixtures in two weeks times, Fenerbahce and Saski Baskonia are already in must-win territory when they square off in Istanbul. EA7 Milano will look to build some road form when they visit the Palau to take on Barca. Over in Group F, it’s all about the battle for fourth as the three teams in the chase take on the top three. Kuban vs RMB promises to be the best of the bunch.