Regular Season Round 3: Into the first double-header
The new format of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague takes hold in earnest this week with the first "double-header" of fixtures – all teams playing two games each two nights apart – starting with Round Three. On Tuesday, two of three previously unbeaten teams suffered their first losses. The fourth such team, Fenerbahce Istanbul, plays Wednesday.
In the Round 3 opener, Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul stayed perfect on the road, defeating Unics Kazan 87-94 to improve to 2-1. Unics dropped to 0-3 despite opening the game with a 12-0 run, but Darussafaka tied by the end of first quarter and pulled away for good in the third. Birkan Batuk and Scottie Wilbekin hit three-pointers in the fourth quarter as Darussafaka boosted its margin to 63-78 and never looked back. Bradley Wanamaker led the winners with 22 points, and James Anderson added 18, while Keith Langford paced Unics with 22 points.
Olympiacos Piraeus topped EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 91-81 for its second consecutive doub-edigit home win, knocking the visitors from the ranks of unbeaten teams. Both teams hold 2-1 records. The game was close til the end of the third quarter, when Erick Green made back-to-back threes in a 12-0 run from which Milan did not recover. Vassilis Spanoulis and Green led Olympiacos with 16 points each, while Kruno Simon had the same for Milan.
Reigning champ CSKA Moscow held off host Anadolu Efes Istanbul 87-93 in a highly-entertaining game at Abdi Ipekci Arena. Nando De Colo and Cory Higgins paced CSKA to a 37-49 halftime lead and the margin reached 15 points before Thomas Heurtel, Derrick Brown and DeShaun Thomas helped Efes tie twice, the last time at 82-82 with 3:35 to go. CSKA scored the next 7 points and never relinquished the lead again. De Colo netted 26 points with 6 assists andMilos Teodosic had 15 points and 8 assists for CSKA. Thomas scored 16 in the losing effort.
In an all-Spanish clash, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz escaped with 87-91 road win against previously unbeaten Real Madrid. Both teams are now 2-1. Baskonia led by as many as 17 points, 28-45 in the first half, but Luka Doncic and Jaycee Carroll led Madrid back to erase the deficit and lead 81-73 midway through the fourth quarter. Johannes Voigtmann and Jaka Blazic rallied Baskonia and a critical triple by Blazic with 10 seconds left sealed the deal. Blazic paced the winners with 21 points, while Voigtmann had 18 and 11 rebounds. Gustavo Ayon led Madrid with 16 points, while Doncic added a EuroLeague career-high 15 in defeat.
Wednesday tips off with the Game of the Week as Crvena Zvezda MTS Belgrade (1-1) welcomes FC Barcelona Lassa (1-1) to the Serbian capital. The visitors have allowed fewer points than any team but needs offensive spark after registering the second-fewest points tally, too. Zvezda also has room for improvement on offense after committing the second-highest number of turnovers (30) in the first two weeks.
In Istanbul, Fenerbahce (2-0) will seek to lose its status as the league's lowest-scoring team when Zalgiris Kaunas (1-1) comes to visit. Strangely, Fenerbahce is simultaneously the league's least accurate two-point shooting team (38%) and most accurate from three-point range (51%). Zalgiris will rely on its physical power after claiming far more rebounds (88) so far than any other team.
Two 1-1 teams looking for second victories meet in Germany as Brose Bamberg hosts a Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens team under the guidance of new coach Xavi Pascual. If it comes down to free throws, the home team could have the edge: Bamberg has missed just one free throw so far this season for a 96% conversion rate, while Panathinaikos ranks last in that category after netting just 68% of its free throw attempts.
And finally, a first victory is assured for two as-yet-winless teams as another new coach, Rami Hadar, takes charge of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv against visiting Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul. Both teams have been successful enough offensively during the first two games, ranking third and fifth, respectively, in scoring. But their mutual area for improvement is clear: Galatasaray ranks last in points allowed (97 points per game) and Maccabi (94) next-to-last.
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