TODAY’S ZAMAN – Real Madrid reaches Euroleague playoffs as Galatasaray bites dust

Real Madrid reaches Euroleague playoffs as Galatasaray bites dustReal Madrid reached the Euroleague playoffs with four games to spare after a 93-62 home rout of Alba Berlin on Thursday ensured a quarter-final berth for the winners of a record eight titles in the competition.Red Star Belgrade, who lost seven of their opening eight games, celebrated a second successive win after a 91-68 victory over Galatasaray Liv Hospital in Istanbul kept alive an outside chance of progressing.

Having lost several key players in recent weeks amid a difficult financial situation, Galatasaray was swept away by a dominant Red Star whose Slovenian guard Jaka Blazic scored a game-high 19 points. The defeat means the Istanbul side has been ousted from the competition.

Barcelona, twice former champions, also edged closer to the knockout stage with an 89-71 win over holders Maccabi Tel Aviv on the back of a fine performance by Croatian center Ante Tomic.Favorites to win their ninth trophy if they reach the May 15-17 Final Four on home court in Madrid, Real surged into the last eight improving their second group stage record to 9-1.

Alba could not match Realand#39s deep roster as 11 of the home teamand#39s 12 players netted, with American guard Jaycee Carroll amassing 13 points to lead a pack of five who finished in double-scoring digits.Barcelona, who have played in fits and starts in the Top 16 featuring two sections of eight, treated their fans in the Blaugrana to free-flowing basketball with Maccabi beaten at their own game based on quick transition.

andldquoItand#39s always difficult against them because thatand#39s their style, but we played really well today,andrdquo Tomic, who led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds, told Euroleague television. andldquoIt is very important that we have climbed to second place and we will now try to win the group,andrdquo he said.

Juan Carlos Navarro, Deshaun Thomas and Tomas Satoransky added 11 points each for Barcelona, who have six wins and three defeats like third-placed Maccabi.The top four teams from each section will aance to the best-of-five quarterfinal playoffs, with the winners progressing to the Final Four.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman