Eight exciting Top-16 Round-4 games were played in Turkish Airlines Euro-League over two days on January 21 & 22. At the end, Fenerbahce Istanbul still remained as the sole unbeaten side out of 16 contestants. They beat city rivals Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul in an amazingly high-scoring home game. However, the Group F game between arch-rivals FC Barcelona Lassa and Real Madrid went to the wire and ended at 87-86 just as the buzzer went off. This season’s Top-16 has remained extremely balanced with 10 out of 16 teams finishing with a 2-2 record. The Round-4 also marked a satisfactory coaching debut for the legendary Lithuanian Sarunas Jasikevicius, whose team, Zalgiris Kaunas scored its first Top-16 victory by beating Olympiacos Piraeus on January 22 at Kaunas’ Zalgirio Arena. Snippets from last week’s Group E & F matches are presented hereunder.
In a match, where 206 points were scored in 40 minutes, Fenerbahce Istanbul managed to remain unscathed after 4 rounds in Top-16 matches. They took on city rivals Darussafaka Dogus in the Istanbul Derby and played a road game at Volkswagen Arena. The fast-paced game saw Fenerbahce scoring 37 points in first quarter alone, riding on Bobby Dixon’s 5 three-pointers and brilliant work by Jan Vesely. Although Fenerbahce kept the lead almost throughout, Darussafaka fought back to come within 3 points in the last 60 seconds. But Udoh and Dixon made the decisive difference before the buzzer for a 106-100 victory for Fenerbahce. Dixon finished with 24 points; Udoh scored 21 with 7 rebounds while Vesely made 16 with 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. While Fenebahce won their fourth game in as many matches, Darussafaka suffered their fourth straight loss.
Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar scored their third victory to remain at second place behind Fenerbahce in the group. They defeated Panathinaikos Athens 76-67 riding on Dontaye Draper’s 20 points, most of which came from three-point shooting. Malcolm Delaney added 14 with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. It was a close game despite Lokomotiv’s 53-51 halftime lead. Panathinaikos’ Antonis Fotsis excelled to bring parity at 64-64 with just three minutes left but when it mattered most; Draper hit 3 three-pointers towards the end to take Lokomotiv to safety.
In another close home-game, Cedevita Zagreb defeated Anadolu Efes Istanbul 84-80. Although Cedevita led by 13 points in third quarter, Efes’ Derrick Brown led a likely comeback in fourth quarter that was full of theatrics. There were six lead changes and two ties before Cedevita’s Miro Bilan, Marko Arapovic and Jacob Pullen made the final push with 10 seconds left. Bilan and Arapovic scored 16 points each while Luka Babic scored 12 with 10 rebounds.
Serbia’s Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade defeated Unicaja Malaga 87-73 at home. It was Crvena’s second straight win in which Stefan Jovic scored 15 points. Crvena led throughout but Unicaja closed the gap to 60-57 as the fourth quarter began. Midway through the last session, Crvena restored the lead and finished winners.
In a heart-stopper at Madrid, Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 87-86 on the buzzer. In a game equivalent to their football clasicos, the teams vied for superiority throughout the match. The game swung from one side to another, until Justin Doellman of Barcelona came up with a point at the buzzer. In all, Doellman scored 24 points that included 6 three-pointers from 7 attempts.
Spain’s Laboral Kutxa Vitoria defeated CSKA Moscow 81-71 in one of the most keenly fought games of the week. For Laboral, Ioannis Bourousis was the lead scorer with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Fabien Causeur added 15. For a while, CSKA led 70-69 but Laboral restored the lead with a 12-0 run by Bourousis and Causeur.
Lithuania’s celebrated star of yesteryears, Sarunas Jasikevicius made a winning debut as head coach for Zalgiris Kaunas, who defeated the strong Olympiacos Athens 75-55 at home. It was also Zalgiris’ first victory in four rounds. The home team excelled in defense and limited the visitors to just one field point for about 15 minutes on either side of the halftime. Olympiacos were also prevented from scoring for the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter. Paulius Jankunas was Zalgiris’ top-scorer with 18 points.
Khimki Moscow Region defeated Brose Baskets Bamberg 78-61 at Moscow. But the game was not one-sided because in second quarter, Brose Baskets wiped out an 11-point lead by a 12-0 run by Bradley Wanamaker and Janis Strelnieks to go ahead at 28-27. Even at the start of third quarter, Brose led by 2 points but precisely then, Tyler Honeycutt and Shved turned the tables on the visitors to carry the hosts to a fine victory. For Khimki, Alexey Shved finished as the top scorer with 22 points.
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