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Euroleague Review: Regular season ends, Alexis Ajinca's NBA career resumes

Regular Season of Euroleague comes to an end. Alexis Ajinca's strong play over the summer earns him a spot on the New Orleans Pelicans. Bamberg collapses in the very last, crucial moment, Jayson Granger saves Unicaja Malaga, MOAR Daniel Hackettand a look at the Top 16 groups and format.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Alexis!

Before reviewing the action of the last few weeks I wanted to highlight that Alexis Ajinca is back in the NBA. I was confident that Alexis would get another shot at the NBA within the next 1 1/2 years yet it is a surprise to actually see him play NBA games in 2013 already. The 7'2" center out of France played three uninspiring seasons from 2008-2011 in Charlotte and Dallas where he combined for just 71 games and a career WS/48 of .025. After a strong showing on France's gold winning National Team at the Eurobasket and dominating performances at the Euroleague with French underdog SG Strasbourg, Ajinca's contract was bought out by the Pelicans who are short up front, featuring ex-Wolves Greg Stiemsma and Lou Amundson.

Nice low risk move that could still hold a reward even though he clearly wasn't an NBA player in his first stint.. Ajinca is still just 25 years old, has a freakish body and matured significantly during his last few Euro years. In his debut for the Pierres against Portland, Ajinca grabbed 11 rebounds in just 16 minutes but has been Dieng-like foul prone in his first two games.Still definitely an upgrade over Lou Amundson (ok, even a penguin would be). He's a fun player and I'm happy to see him back. I hope he'll get some burn and with Davis back in the lineup I finally have various reasons to watch the Hellicans.

Here's a new DX scouting video

Group A

Gameday 9

Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 77 - 79 Partizan NIS Belgrade
Partizan NIS Belgrade celebrates - EB13

Not only has Partizan lost its ballhandling leader Leo Westermann for the season, but the outlook in the Euroleague with just two games to go was grim: The youngest team ever in the EL saw itself one game behind surprise hit  JSF Nanterre and had to face powerhouses Fenerbahce Istanbul and CSKA Moscow. At least one win was mandatory and to much surprise, Partizan pulled it out in Turkey to keep its dream alive.

Istanbul's fans watched in shock as Partizan sliced through the turkish team's defense at will, converting all of its 11 first field goal attempts and going up 30-17 after the first quarter. If not for one miss by Terrance Kinsey, Partizan would have gone perfect on 12 shot attempts. The second quarter was a complete different story: Istanbul's defense tightened up and allowed only 9 points while scoring 20 and cutting Belgrade's lead to just two points. After the third quarter, the hosts took the lead on a 43-29 run that didn't give much hope to Serb fans.

Yet, two threes by Bogdan Bogdanovic and Terrance Kinsey, and a layup-dunk combo by Joffrey Lauvergne gave the youngsters a comfortable eight point lead with five minutes to go. Partizan increased the lead to nine with just three minutes to go, but a three pointer by Emir Preldzic, free throws by the other Bogdanovic, Bojan, and a Bo McCalebb dunk cut the lead to four. A turnover by Partizan gave the hosts more momentum, but after a botched three pointer by Bogdanovic, McCalebb missed a layup off an offensive rebound just to get another offensive rebound. This time though, Lauvergne sent him to the line with a foul and McCalebb was unfortunate agan, splitting free throws. Tradign free throws was eventually enough for Partizan in the last few moments to win a crucial game.
Emir Preldzic - IST (21 pts, 7 assts, 6 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl, 1 blk)

Bogdan Bogdanovic - BEL (19 pts, 5 assts, 4 rebs, 2 stls, 1 blk)

CSKA Moscow 79 - 65 FC Barcelona
Top Performers:
Sonny Weems - CSKA (15 pts, 5 rebs, 5 assts, 2 stls)
Ante Tomic - BAR (10 pts, 10 rebs, 2 stls)

Budivelnik Kiev 97 - 87 JSF Nanterre
Top Performers:
Darjus "What?! That guy is like 50 years old!" Lavrinovic - NAN (29 pts on 10 shots, 10 rebs, 4 assts, 3 blks)
Mam Jaiteh - KIE (14 pts, 11 rebs, 1 stl)

Gameday 10

Partizan NIS Belgrade 62 - 73 CSKA Moscow
Top Performers:
Dejan Musli - BEL (11 pts, 5 rebs, 1 asst)
Sonny Weems - CSKA (11 pts, 6 rebs, 4 assts, 2 stls)

FC Barcelona 96 - 77 Budivelnik Kiev
Top Performers:
Maciej Lampe - BAR (16 pts, 4 rebs, 1 asst)
DaJuan Summers - KIE (17 pts, 8 rebs, 3 assts, 1 stl)

JSF Nanterre 76 - 95 Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul
Top Performers:
DeShaun Thomas - NAN (14 pts, 2 rebs, 1 blk)
Bojan Bogdanovic - IST (20 pts, 3 rebs, 2 assts, 1 stl)

Fenerbahce Istanbul - Q
8 2 119,4 105
CSKA Moscow - Q
7 3 106,6 97
FC Barcelona - Q
7 3 112 104,3
Partizan Belgrade - Q
3 7 98,8 107,2
JSF Nanterre 3 7 97,6 107,4
Budivelnik Kiev 2 8 100,3 113,5

Group B

Gameday 9

Zalgiris Kaunas 65 - 63 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Top Performers:
Robertas Javtokas - KAU (11 pts, 10 rebs, 2 stls, 2 blks)
Semih Erden - IST (14 pts, 13 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl, 1 blk)

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 74 - 73 Brose Baskets Bamberg
Top Performers:
Gani Lawal - MIL (17 pts, 10 rebs, 3 blks, 1 stl)
Anton Gavel - BAM (15 pts, 3 rebs, 2 assts)

Real Madrid 79 - 66 Strasbourg
Top Performers:
Nikola Mirotic - MAD (22 pts on 5 shots, 6 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl, 1 blk)
Antoine Diot - STR (17 pts, 3 assts, 2 rebs)

Gameday 10

Brose Baskets Bamberg 80 - 84 Zalgiris Kaunas
Zalgiris Kaunas celebrates - EB13
A true elimination game between the Bamberg - fifth before the game - and Zalgiris who looked to hold on to the fourth and last qualification spot for the Top 16 round. In a remarkable game, Bamberg broke it's fans hearts in a defeat due to a disastrious 4th quarter collapse.
In the third quarter, Bamberg seemed to take control of an even game by taking a nine point lead into the 4th quarter at 69-60. Bamberg's Jamar Smith had a tough start to the final quarter with a missed three pointed and two turnovers in two that Ksistof Lavrinovic (aka the other Lavrinovic) capitated on for two consecutive buckets, followed by a Justin Dentmon bomb from long range that cut the lead to one. Unlucky Jamar Smith stumbled beneath a ladder, trampled on a black cat on his way to a missed layup. John Goldsberry and Maik Zirbes missed easy layups too while Justin Dentmon showed them how to make a layup, giving Zalgiris the lead. Anton Gavel ended the drought after five scoreless minutes with a layup that was immediately followed by a Lavrinovic bucket. Gavel and Goldsberry bricked some more threes and layups while youngster Tomas Dimsa and Robertas Javtokas scored on the other end. After a few other players who don't want to be named bricked threes, Bamberg's coach decided to put Jamar Smith back in who rewarded him by bricking a three.
An incredible 22-2 run by Zalgiris to an "ooh"-ing and "aaah"-ing home crowd in disbelief KOs the German champ.

Anton Gavel - BAM (16 pts, 8 assts, 1 reb, 2 stls)
Justin Dentmon - KAU (26 pts, 7 rebs, 4 assts)

Anadolu Efes Istanbul 61 - 86 Real Madrid
Top Performers:
Dusko Savanovic - IST (20 pts, 6 rebs, 1 stl)
Sergio Rodriguez - MAD (25 pts, 5 assts, 3 rebs, 1 stl)

Strasbourg 76 - 67 EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
Top Performers:
Romain Duport - STR (14 pts, 9 rebs, 1 asst, 1 blk)
Nicolo Melli - MIL (7 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assts, 3 stls)

Real Madrid - Q
10 0 121,9 88,9
EA7 Milan - Q
5 5 104,5 108,1
Zalgiris Kaunas - Q
5 5 101,4 106,5
Anadolu Istanbul - Q
4 6 101,5 104,9
Brose Bamberg 3 7 108,2 116,6
Strasbourg 3 7 99,7 112,9

Group C

Gameday 9

Olympiacos Piraeus
78 - 73 Montepaschi Siena
Top Performers:
Vassilis Spanoulis - PIR (16 pts, 2 rebs, 2 assts, 1 stl)
Erick Green - SIE (28 pts, 1 reb, 1 asst, 1 stl)

Unicaja Malaga
77 - 72 Bayern Munich
Top Performers:
Nik Caner-Medley - MAL (17 pts, 6 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl, 1 blk)
Malcolm Delaney - MUN (14 pts, 7 assts, 3 rebs)

Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 76 - 57 Stelmet Zielona Gora
Top Performers:
Milan Macvan - IST (18 pts, 6 rebs, 3 assts, 1 blk)
Lukasz Koszarek - GOR (11 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts)

Gameday 10

Montepaschi Siena
62 - 64 Unicaja Malaga

Unicaja Malaga celebrates top 16 - EB13

The matchup was a do-or-die-game for Siena while Malaga could even be lucky in a loss and advance if it Galatasary beat Bayern. Galatasaray got blown out though and Malaga took matters in its own hands against Daniel Hackett (returning from injury) and his co-stars. Siena hanged in tough at home but fell to an incredible off-balance buzzer beater by Jayson Granger.

Malaga looked solid on the road and opened a ten point lead after the first half which melted to four on a 16-10 third quarter by Siena. Siena's David Cournooh opened the quarter by two quick three bombs interrupted by a Caner-Medley bucket for a tie at 44-44. Both teams scored at will, combining for 22 points in just five minutes. Malaga got serious with three minutes to go on two three pointers by Earl Calloway and eventual hero Jayson Granger for a six point lead. Spencer Nelson and 2013 NBA draftee Erick Green scored on layups for Siena. Jayson Granger hurt SIena's defense with a layup, but five quick points by Othello Hunter and Joshua Carter gave the hosts a one point lead with less than a minute to go. Malaga's coach Joan Plaza replaced Jayson Granger with Ryan Toolson and got rewarded with a three by that guy for a two point lead. Hackett who wasn't as lively as in throughout the Euroleague regular season in this game found Othello Hunter on a brutal defensive breakdown for an easy layup on an out of bounds play to tie at 62-62. Plaza put Granger back in for Fran Vasquez. With just four seconds to go, Granger raced down the court, got a nice screen that shook off Daniel Hackett and hit a running shot for the win.

The last 10 seconds: Hackett finds Hunter for the tie, but Granger wins it.

Othello Hunter - SIE (14 pts, 5 rebs, 1 blk)
Jayson Granger - MAL (13 pts, 6 rebs, 2 assts)

Stelmet Zielona Gora
80 - 91 Olympiacos Piraeus
Top Performers:
Przemyslaw Zamojski - GOR (22 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assts)
Stratos Perperoglou - PIR (23 pts, 3 assts, 2 rebs, 1 stl)

Bayern Munich
88 - 68 Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul

Top performers:
Nihad Djedovic - MUN (15 pts, 6 rebs, 4 assts)
Henry Domercant - IST (15 pts, 4 rebs, 3 stls)

Olympiacos Piraeus - Q
10 0 113,2 102,5
Galatasaray Istanbul - Q
6 4 103,1 108,9
Unicaja Malaga - Q
5 5 111 103,6
Bayern Munich - Q
4 6 114,1 110,3
Montepaschi Siena 3 7 99,9 103,5
Stelmet Zielona Gora 2 8 100,6 113,5

Group D

Gameday 9

Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade
81 - 65 Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
Top performers:
Jaka Blazic - BEL (24 pts, 4 rebs, 1 stl, 1 blk)
Lamont Hamilton - VIT (13 pts, 6 rebs, 3 assts, 3 blks, 2 stls)

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 78 - 71 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
Top performers:
Shawn James - TEL (9 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assts, 2 blks)
Zabian Dowdell - VIL (16 pts, 4 rebs, 4 assts)

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
63 - 82 Panathinaikos Athens
Top performers:
Derrick Brown - KRA (8 pts, 4 rebs, 3 assts)
Dimitris Diamantidis - ATH (12 pts, 7 assts, 3 stls, 1 reb)

Gameday 10

Panathinaikos Athens 55 - 68 Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
Top performers:
Stephane Lasme - ATH (16 pts, 8 rebs, 1 asst, 1 stl)
Joe Ingles - TEL (10 pts, 3 assts, 2 rebs, 1 stl)

Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 75 - 99 Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade
Top performers:
Juan Palacios - VIL (26 pts, 2 rebs, 2 blks, 1 stl)
Boban Marjanovic - BEL (25 pts, 11 rebs, 3 assts, 1 blk)

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 84 - 71 Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Top performers:
Thomas Heurtel - VIT (6 pts, 4 assts, 5 rebs, 1 stl)
Marcus Williams - KRA (19 pts, 5 rebs, 4 assts, 1 stl)

Maccabi Tel Aviv - Q
8 2 107,6 99,6
Laboral Vitoria - Q
6 4 110,9 105,4
Lokomotiv Krasnodar - Q
6 4 101,6 101,8
Panathinaikos Athens - Q
5 5 107,9 103,2
Crvena Zvezda Belgrade 4 6 108,6 106,9
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 1 9 93,6 112

TOP 16

Format: Two groups with eight teams per group. Round-robin format for a total of 14 games per team. Best four teams from each group advance.
Duration: January 2nd to April 11th 2014.


Fenerbahce Ulker
Olympiacos Piraeus
EA7 Emporio Armani
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria
FC Barcelona
Unicaja Malaga
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Panathinaikos Athens


Real Madrid
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
CSKA Moscow
Galatasaray Liv Hospital
Zalgiris Kaunas
Lokomotiv Kuban
Partizan NIS Belgrade
FC Bayern Munich

Next Week

No Euroleague play to review next week, but I'll take the time to bring back the MVP watch, highlight a few Euroleague magazine features, and start looking at the first few future prospects at the power forward/center position.