reports: Only twice before this season had teams ever started the Top 16 with two defeats and still made the Euroleague Playoffs. This month, Partizan Igokea became the third such comeback playoff qualifier in large part because of the trust placed in – and rewarded by – starting point guard Milt Palacio, Euroleague Basketball’s choice as MVP for March. In his debut Euroleague season, Palacio found consistency at the perfect time to help Partizan go deeper into the competition than it has all decade. When the month started, Partizan was tied for last place in its Top 16 group and faced three must-win survival tests against superpower opponents. Its first victim was eventual group winner Montepaschi Siena, which had been undefeated to that point. Next, came Partizan’s only road win of the round, against Efes Pilsen. However, those first two victories merely set the stage for a game that fans in Belgrade, Serbia will remember a long, long time. In a winner-take-all classic, Partizan ended the Euroleague reign of defending champion Panathinaikos with an impassioned display of great basketball in the Top 16 finale. At the center of it all was Palacio, averaging 20.3 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while making 74% of his two-point shots, 55% of his triples and 88% of his free throws during March.