Modern era Euro-league basketball entered its 16th season two weeks ago. It is also the sixth season under Turkish Airlines. 24 teams divided in 4 Groups are playing the regular season in Round-Robin home-and-away basis and 10 rounds will be played until December 18. After that, 16 teams will qualify to form two new Groups E and F of 8 teams each. From December 29, 2015, each team will play 14 round-robin matches on home-and-away basis and first 4 teams from each Group will enter the knock-out phase after the last match on April 7, 2016. These 8 teams will play in a best-of-five series in 4 groups of 2 teams each during April 12-26, 2016 and the series winners will enter the Final Four. The last matches will be in Berlin during May 13-15, 2016 on single elimination basis with semifinals on May 13 and the title game on May 15, 2016. In the 2015-16 season; two new teams from Turkey; Pinar Karsiyakaand and Darussafaka Dogus are making their Euro-League debuts. 16 Regular Season matches in round-3 were played during October 29-30 at different venues. A brief action report of round-3 matches is as follows.
In their home game, Khimki Moscow Region scored a huge win, when they thoroughly outplayed Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 91-53. After the first quarter lead of 22-17, Khimki dominated the second quarter and literally sealed the victory with a halftime lead of 51-30. At one stage in the last quarter, the score reached 87-43 before Crvena Zvezda managed a few points. James Augustine finished with 14 points, Dragic scored 12 Petteri Koponen 10 and Shved 8 with 7 assists. For the visitors, Maik Zirbes was the only one to reach a double-digit score of 15 points.
In another match, Fenerbahce Istanbul beat defending champion Real Madrid 77-66 at home and avenged their 2015 semifinal loss at Madrid. Fenerbahce led Real in every quarter except third, where the scores were level 24-24. With this win, Fenerbahce improved to 2-1, while Madrid suffered their second loss. For the hosts, Ekpe Udoh and Luigi Datome scored 15 points each with Bogdan Bogdanovic adding 12. For Real Madrid, Felipe Reyes scored 15 while Gustavo Ayon added 10 rebounds. Before the game entered last quarter, Madrid’s Rudy Fernandez and Reyes had closed the gap to 63-56 but afterwards, Fenerbahce defended well and allowed just 10 more points to Madrid in last 10 minutes.
Bayern Munich tightened their defense and defeated the French Club Strasbourg 76-61 at Munich. In their second triumph in a row, Bayern scored 11 three-pointers in 24 attempts. Though, Bayern trailed in the first quarter, they improved subsequently but their lead remained in single digit until the third quarter. In the last quarter, Bayern’s Nihad Djedovic and Dusko Savanovic scored 8 in a 10-0 run to open up a 66-53 margin, after which the hosts never looked back. Djedovic finished with 22 points and Savanovic scored 18 with 7 rebounds.
Turkish Club Anadolu Efes Istanbul lost 75-81 at home against Cedevita Zagreb after leading until the third quarter. In the last quarter however, Cedevita Zagreb bounced back with 27 points to turn the tables on the hosts. It was Efes’ first loss in three games while Cedevita clinched its first win. For the Croats, Miro Bilan and Jacob Puller scored 20 and 18 points respectively with most of them coming in the amazing fourth quarter.
In second match, Spain’s Laboral Kutxa Vitoria scored a 107-71 dominating road win over French club Limoges CSP on October 29 and recorded their second consecutive win of the season. Laboral jumped to a 14-point lead after 10 minutes from start and kept widening the margin thereafter. There was little Limoges could do as 11 Laboral players scored at least 3 points with Darius Adams leading the way with 18 and 9 assists. Fabien Causeur scored 16; Corbacho had 14 and James 12.
In another road win, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 66-71. In a high intensity match, Milan led 54-52 going into the fourth quarter but Olympiacos rallied with a 19-12 score and stole the victory from the hosts. For Olympiacos, Patric Young scored 18 points and Georgios Printezis added 16. For Milan, Alessandro Gentile scored 24 points and 7 assists but all that went in vain, despite the score being tied 64-64 with a minute left. A crucial jumper by Spanoulis and a dunk-and-foul by Printezis sealed Olympiacos’ win.
In the closest finish of the week, Zalgiris Kaunas managed a 68-66 road win against debutants Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir. The match was decided in the final second after Zalgiris led 58-52 at the end of the third quarter. Pinar fought doggedly in last quarter and led 64-61 at one stage. However, a 6-0 run from spirited efforts by Jankunas and Seibutis restored the lead for Zalgiris. Jankunas scored 16 points with 10 rebounds while Brock Motum added 13. If Pinar had not missed four three-point shots in the last 58 seconds, the story could have been different.
At Palau Blaugrana, FC Barcelona defeated Panathinaikos Athens 77-52 on October 29. The match between the two Euro-league giants failed to elicit any fireworks with FCB nearly dominating the contest in clinching their second win in three matches. Panathinaikos Athens have now lost two games. FCB’s Justin Doellman led the scoring with 13 points and 6 rebounds, while Ante Tomic, Stratos Perperoglou and Alex Abrines added 11 apiece.
In the last match, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar continued undefeated with an 83-75 road win over Poland’s Stelmet Zielona Gora on October 30. The match was too tight than the final score would indicate. In fourth quarter, the lead changed eight times and scores were tied on seven occasions. Lokomotiv’s victory came in last 90 seconds, when they prevented the hosts from taking a single point. Malcolm Delaney was the lead scorer for Lokomotiv with 25 points and 5 assists, Victor Claver added 13 with 8 rebounds and Ryan Broekhoff scored 12.
CSKA Moscow faced strong resistance at Moscow from German champion Brose Baskets Bamberg in an 83-77 victory on October 29. It was CSKA’s third victory in three games. CSKA had a 9-point halftime lead that swelled to 15 in third quarter but Bamberg fought back with Bradley Wanamaker playing a key role and led CSKA 69-68 with 4 minutes left for the buzzer. However, CSKA made a strong finish with three triples at crunch time. Nando De Colo finished with 22 points and 7 assists, while Teodosic scored 18. Wanamaker’s 19 points for Bamberg were finally wasted.
Maccabi Tel Aviv scored their first victory by defeating Italian club Dinamo Banco Di Sardegna Sassari 79-63 in Tel Aviv. Devin Smith was the star performer with 22 points while Trevor Mbakwe scored 11 with 15 rebounds. Smith and Mbakwe lifted Maccabi in third quarter with a 13-4 run. With Brian Randle adding 12, Sassari succumbed to their third successive defeat.
In Friday’s last match, Unicaja Malaga made it 3-0 in three games, with 81-69 home victory over Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. Unicaja and CSKA are tied at the top spot. Unicaja led from start and when Edwin Jackson and Dani Diez shared 5 three-pointers in second quarter, they decisively broke away from the Turkish Club. After a 44-37 halftime lead, Unicaja never looked back. Edwin Jackson led with 18 points while Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 12.