The New Year for Turkish Airlines Euro-League Basketball Tournament began with Round-16 games of Regular Season. Seven results went in favor of home teams and the solitary road winner was Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade, who defeated Zalgiris Kaunas at Serbian capital’s Zalgirio Arena. Defending champions CSKA Moscow were handed their third consecutive defeat for the first time in six years by another former champion Real Madrid. Indications of the qualifying race getting tight in ensuing Rounds came from the fact that difference between first and sixth-placed teams was reduced to 3 wins and 14 Rounds still remain until April 7, 2017. While CSKA still lead the pack with 12 wins, three teams are tied at second spot with 11 points, the most unexpected being Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz. Last year’s runners-up Fenerbahce have slipped down with 10 wins. Of the others, Panathinaikos have 9 points; 3 teams are tied at 8 points, 2 at 7 points and another 3 have recorded 6 wins each. EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul lie at 15th and 16th places with 4 wins apiece.
Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz continued their solid Euro-League run by overshadowing Unics Kazan 102-70. The result improved Baskonia’s standings to 11-5 while Unics dropped to 6-10. Baskonia feasted on the brilliance of Rodrigue Beaubois, who scored 29 points in just 19 minutes. Beaubois’ count included 7 out of 8 two-point shots and 5 out of 8 three-pointers. Johannes Voigtmann added 14 and 7 other Baskonia players scored at least 6 points. For Unics, Keith Langford topped with 19 points.
Galatasaray Odeabank’s misery continued in Istanbul derby as they lost 73-84 to Anadolu Efes. The win took Efes to 8-8, while Galatasaray slipped to 4-12. Efes began leading for good in the middle of second quarter and despite trying hard, Galatasaray failed to catch up. For Efes, Bryant Dunston led with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks while Sinan Guler’s 20 points for Galatasaray were wasted.
Once at the bottom in overall standings, Brose Bamberg have jumped to 5-9 with an 85-65 victory over FC Barcelona Lassa. Now Barcelona also have the same 7-9 record. Bamberg had an aggressive defense from start that forced Barcelona into 18 turnovers. With 20 points, which included 6 of 8 three-pointers, Darius Miller was the top scorer for Bamberg. Janis Strelnieks also added 20 while Nicolo Melli had 17 and 13 rebounds. For Barcelona, Tyrese Rice scored 19.
In an out-and-out thriller, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv edged out Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 93-92 to snap their 6-game losing streak. Maccabi’s win came in the last second, when Darussafaka’s Brad Wanamaker missed the last-second free-throw that would have tied the game. Wanamaker’s miss allowed Maccabi to go through. Sonny Weems was Maccabi’s lead scorer with 24 points and 8 assists.
In another close fight last week, Fenerbahce Istanbul defeated EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 86-79, helped by a huge three-pointer from James Nunnally in the final minute. Milan had a fast-paced game and Fenerbahce led only by one-point at 80-79, when Nikola Kalinic’s assist helped Nunnally with his fourth three-pointer with 36 seconds left. Fenerbahce improved to 10-6 while Milan went down to 4-12. Nunnally led with 19 points and 5 assists, while Ekpe Udoh added another 18 with 8 rebounds.
There was another derby in Round-16 at Athens, where Olympiacos Piraeus edged out arch-rivals Panathinaikos Superfoods 77-69. However, both Greek teams are still in qualifying contention. While Olympiacos improved to 11-5, Panathinaikos are not far behind at 9-7 despite the loss. For the winners, Ioannis Papapetrou scored 13 points and Vassilis Spanoulis scored 12 while, Mike James scored 24 and KC Rivers added 23 for Panathinaikos.
In the Spanish capital, Real Madrid reignited the battle for top spot by creating a late surge and beating reigning champions CSKA Moscow 95-85. With that, Madrid’s record went up to 11-5 but CSKA still leads at 12-4. It was the first time since 2011 that CSKA had lost three consecutive games. For Milan, Sergio Llull scored 24 points with 6 assists and Jonas Maciulis added another 20.
The only road winners of last week were Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade, who defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 77-61. It was Zvezda’s third straight win and they improved to 8-8 for the season while Zalgiris fell to 6-10 in their third straight home loss. Crvena assumed control with a 14-2 first quarter run sparked off by Ognjen Kuzmic, who scored all his 8 points in this period. For the visitors, Marko Simonovic scored 16 with 4 three-pointers out of 8 and Branko Lazic added a career-high 15 with 4 steals. For Zalgiris, Paulius Jankunas scored 10 points.