The Top16 action continued with Round-3 matches at different European venues on January 15 & 16 2015. The third week of the Top-16 Round-3 contests in the Turkish Airlines Euro-league was full of excitement and fans were preview to some great basketball show. Just as in Round-1, the Round-3 also belonged to the road warriors as 5 out of 8 matches were won away from home. Among the victors in away games, there were three teams that have improved their tournament standings to 3-0. These teams are Real Madrid in Group E and Olympiacos Piraues & CSKA Moscow in Group F. Of the stars, who stole the limelight in Round-3, was CSKA Moscow’s Nando De Colo. There were others but de Colo was superb as he led his team to a 78-69 victory against Anadolu Efes Istanbul. De Colo scored 22 points while making 12 out of 13 free throws. Not only that, de Colo also produced 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 12 fouls drawn. His performance index of 34 was the highest for any Euro-league player in Top 16 Round 3.
In Group E matches, Game of the Week was played between reigning champions Maccabi Electra and FC Barcelona. The contest was so close that spectators experienced goose pimples while they watched the game at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena. Maccabi Electra kept building leads throughout the game but the visitors kept returning into the game and for most times, it was a neck-to-neck game. Barcelona led 56-55 as the teams entered the fourth quarter but Maccabi produced an 11-0 rally that took them to a 66-56 lead. FCB still had a victory chance in dying moments, but when Devin Smith blocked Maciej Lampe’s game-tying layup attempt with 3 seconds left and Jeremy Pargo made perfect free throws, Maccabi finished 78-69 victors. Pargo collected 20 points and 7 assists, while Smith chipped in with 15.
In German capital Berlin, Real Madrid recorded their third consecutive win, when they beat ALBA Berlin 79 to 61. Real Madrid now lead Group E 3-0. The visitors excelled in third quarter with a number of three-pointers and raced away to a 55-44 lead. After that ALBA couldn’t challenge Real. For the Spaniards, Sergio Llull scored 13 points, while Sergio Rodriguez added another 12 with 7 assists.
On January 16, Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul beat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade by 9 points with the score-line of 65-74. It was Galatasaray’s first road victory in this Euro-league season and though it wasn’t a great game, the lead kept changing from one side to another through the match. In fourth quarter however, Galatasaray scored on six consecutive possessions with efforts from Vladimir Micov, Carlos Arroyo and Justin Carter. Micov scored 12 points; Arroyo had 11, while Carter scored all his 10 in the final 5 minutes of the game.
In another Group E match on Friday, Panathinaikos Athens defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 77-58. Panathinaikos used their defense to hold Zalgiris to 9 third-quarter points and break the game open after 30 minutes. Six out of seven players from Panathinaikos came up with double-digit scores with Nikos Pappas being the top scorer. He had 14 points and James Gist was next with 13.
After the completion of Round-3 in Group F, two teams share the top spot. These teams are; CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos Piraeus. On January 15, 2015, CSKA Moscow scored a 78 to 69 win over Anadolu Efes Istanbul in an away game and kept their Euro-league record unbroken. CSKA have won all their 13 matches this season. On Thursday, they had a scare in final three minutes but they produced a 12-2 burst and romped home with victory by a 9-point margin. CSKA star Nando De Colo matched his career-high with 22 points, with 11 of them coming in the fourth quarter. He also had 7 rebounds and 4 steals while Aaron Jackson finished the game with 21 points for CSKA. Unfortunately, star performer Sonny Weems couldn’t play.
In another Group F match on Friday, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul by 74 points to 68. It was an outstanding contest on road for Olympiacos Piraeus in which the real action came in the last quarter. Vassilis Spanoulis was truly superb at crunch time as he didn’t falter with the go-ahead triple with 17.8 seconds left. Spanoulis scored 16 points, while Matt Lojeski came up with 18. For Fenerbahce, Andrew Goudelock scored 23 points but could not avoid the defeat for his team.
In the other Group F matches Laboral Kutxa Vitoria and EA7 Emorio Armani Milan registered their first Top 16 wins. While Laboral finished with a 81-74 victory over Nizhny Novgorod, Armani Milan beat Unicaja Malaga 77-84. For Laboral, a late 16-1 run charge literally turned a 65-70 deficit into a 10-point lead with Mike James being the top scorer with 14 points.
Round 3 turned out to be interesting for individual performances as well. CSKA Moscow’s Nando De Colo was the MVP as he led his team against Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Other stars, who excelled in Round 3 were; Ante Tomic of FC Barcelona, Aaron Jackson of CSKA, Taylor Rochestie of Nizhny Novgorod and Matt Lojeski of Olympiacos.
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