Game Center, Round 9: Comebacks, streaks and milestones
Round 9 opened with five star-studded games on Thursday of which three came down to the closing minute –and two to the last shot. There was another monumental comeback in Bamberg, another win for Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz under Coach Martinez and a special anniversary for EuroLeague scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro of FC Barcelona Lassa. And there is much to look forward to on Friday, too.
Zalgiris Kaunas 91-83 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Zalgiris used a big advantage on the glass and fine performances by Edgaras Ulanovas in first and Paulius Jankunas in the second half in holding off Anadolu Efes Istanbul 91-83 on Thursday. The win improved Zalgiris to 5-4 and snapped its two-game home losing streak, while Efes dropped to 2-7 at the bottom of the standings. Zalgiris led for most of the night and extended its margin to double-digits midway through the fourth quarter, before holding off the visitors in the final two minutes. Ulanovas scored 20 of his career-high 22 points in the first half, and also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Jankunas added 17 points with 6 rebounds for Zalgiris, which pulled down a season-high 16 offensive boards and outrebounded the visitors 40-29.
Brose Bamberg 83-82 Valencia Basket
Brose Bamberg finished the game on a 14-1 tear to complete a comeback from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit in beating Valencia Basket 83-82 on Thursday at Brose Arena. Ricky Hickman made 3 free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to win a game that the hosts had trailed since the first quarter. Brose improved to 5-4, while sending Valencia to its fifth straight loss and a 3-6 record. Hickman finished with 26 points for the winners. For 35 minutes Valencia was in total control thanks to brilliant three-point shooting and former Brose center Tibor Pleiss’s rim protection, but the Brose went to a small lineup late and let Maodo Lo – with 7 fourth-quarter points – and Bryce Taylor ignite the comeback that Hickman finished.
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 85-86 Olympiacos Piraeus
In a thriller that went down to the last shot, Olympiacos Piraeus escaped with an 85-86 victory over AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan as Jamel McClean came up with the last of many big plays against his team of the last two seasons. Olympiacos improved to 7-2 to retain a share of first place, while Milan fell to 3-6 when Curtis Jerrells failed to connect with the game's final shot. McLean had 22 points, including a three-point play with 46 seconds left that provided the game's final points. Brian Roberts followed with 18 points for the winners, while Milan got 20 points from Jordan Theodore and a double-double of 19 and 10 rebounds from Arturas Gudaitis.
FC Barcelona Lassa 89-67 Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
In a very special night for the club, FC Barcelona Lassa thrashed Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 89-67 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 4-5, while Maccabi dropped to 5-4. Petteri Koponen led the winners with 20 points and Rakim Sanders added 18; the duo combined to make 10 of 13 three-point shots. DeAndre Kane led Maccabi with 13 points. Barcelona solved the game in an outstanding first half. Barcelona dished 12 assists and outrebounded Maccabi by 24-15 before the break, while limiting the visitors to just 9 of 26 shots inside the arc for a 44-24 lead at halftime. EuroLeague scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro was honored in a pre-game ceremony marking the 20thanniversary of his first team debut with Barcelona.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 81-85 Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
Johannes Voigtman and Tornike Shengelia hit key baskets in the final minute to help Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz hold off Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 81-85 on Thursday night. It was Baskonia’s third straight win and second consecutive on the road to improve to 4-6
record. Voigtmann paced Baskonia with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, while Shengelia finished with 16, after scoring 12 in the first half. Mathias Lessort scored 19 points, and Ognjen Dobirc scored 17, both career-highs, for Zvezda, which dropped to 2-7 with its fifth consecutive defeat.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs Khimki Moscow Region
After a dramatic overtime win over CSKA last week, Fenerbahce’s (5-3) morale will be high for the visit of a Khimki (5-3) team that has lost its last two games. Khimki’s main issue is clear: the Russian team has allowed the second-highest number of points in the league, 82.1 per game, but its previously potent offense has also stuttered recently, scoring just 65 and 69 points in the last two losses. Fenerbahce is the most accurate three-point shooting team in the EuroLeague, converting 43.6% of its attempts from downtown, with James Nunnally particularly dangerous after making 11 of his last 17 shots from beyond the arc.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs Real Madrid
Two traditional heavyweights go head to head in Athens where Panathinaikos (5-3) welcome Real Madrid (5-3) for another game that will break the tie for joint-third place. It will be tough for either coach to surprise the other, with the home team’s Xavi Pascual and visiting Pablo Laso facing off on dozens of occasions during the former’s time in Barcelona. The backcourt battle between the league’s top-ranked performer Luka Doncic (28.0 average PIR) and leading assister Nick Calathes (7.4 assists per game) will be particularly great to watch. Both came close to registering triple-doubles last week and the question of which one shines the brightest could decide the outcome.
Unicaja Malaga vs CSKA Moscow
Co-leader CSKA (6-2) will attempt to take out its frustrations from last week’s overtime loss to Fenerbahce when it travels to face an Unicaja team that has lost its last two games. It’s a meeting between the league’s best and worst offenses, with CSKA averaging 87.1 points per game while Unicaja has mustered just 69.8. The home team will therefore try to keep it tight and limit the influence of Nando De Colo, who has scored at least 16 points in each of his last five games. To have a realistic chance, Unicaja also needs to improve its three-point shooting conversion rate of 28.5%, the lowest in the competition.