Game Center: 3 derbies cap first two-game week for EuroLeague clubs
The 2016-17 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season offers no breaks as Round 4 becomes the first in the history of the competition that is not the sole round played in the same week. After all the teams played on Tuesday or Wednesday, they will each either go on the road or return home from a road game for a second contest within 48 hours on either Thursday or Friday. The hectic schedule won't allow for respite and the pressure will be mounting for the three clubs seeking their maiden victories.
In the Round 4 opener, reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow routed fellow Russian club Unics Kazan 98-80 to remain unbeaten. CSKA relied on a balanced team effort that saw seven players score at least 8 points. All-EuroLeague guard Milos Teodosic ran the show with 16 points and 10 assists. Teodosic also took over ninth place on the EuroLeague’s all-time scoring list with 2,397 points, moving past former CSKA great J.R. Holden (2,388 points). The hosts made an amazing 12 of 21 three-pointers (57.1%), including a perfect 3 for 3 by Andrey Vorontsevich. Keith Langford led Unics with 36 points, eclipsing his career high by 1.
In the first of two Round 4 Istanbul city derbies, Anadolu Efes Istanbul rallied on the road to beat Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 79-84 on Thursday night. Darussafaka led for 36 minutes, and by as many as 13 points, but Efes came back to register its first win of the season and improve to 1-3, while dropping Darussafaka to 2-2. The hosts led 50-37 early in the third quarter, but Efes rallied behind Thomas Heurtel and DeShaun Thomas. The visitors got their first lead, 75-77, with less than four minutes to go and then scored the final 6 points in the last minutes to pull out victory. Thomas scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and Heurtel finished with 15 points and 9 assists in victory.
The Game of the Week was a high-scoring affair in which Real Madrid earned a 90-101 road win against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan at a sold-out Mediolanum Forum. Anthony Randolph had a big double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds for Madrid, which took control - and the lead for good - early on. Madrid led 41-52 at the break and the visitors pulled away to a 15-point advantage before the hosts, inspired by Jamel McLean and Rakim Sanders, went on a 17-4 run to bridge the third and fourth quarters and make it a two-point game. But the Spanish powerhouse replied quickly, restoring a double-digit advantage. Othello Hunter had 18 points, and Sergio Llull collected 18 points and 6 assists in victory, while Ricky Hickman scored 19 in defeat.
Vassilis Spanoulis starred with 15 points and a career-high 15 assists as Olympiacos Piraeus grabbed its third consecutive win by downing Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 90-94 on the road on Thursday. Spanoulis moved past his countryman Theo Papaloukas (977) into second place on the EuroLeague's all-time assists list in the second quarter and now has 984. Vangelis Mantzaris scored 17 points for the winners, but it was Erick Green who scored all of his 13 points – including 3 three-pointers - in the fourth quarter. He first helped put the Reds up 80-85, then preserved victory with his last, game-deciding triple 18 seconds before the final buzzer. Toko Shengelia led Baskonia with 20 points.
The week’s second Istanbul derby start the Friday slate with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (0-3) hosting Fenerbahce Istanbul (3-0). This will be the first meeting between the sides in the EuroLeague. It will be an interesting contest for former Fenerbahce captain Emir Preldzic, who will face hos former coach and several ex-teammates. Though Galatasaray (86.3 ppg.)has scored the fourth-point points in the league this season, it has also surrendered the most (97.3 ppg.), while Fenerbahce boasts the stingiest defense in the league with 68.7 points allowed per game.
Zalgiris Kaunas (1-2) will look to return to the win column when it hosts Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (1-2), which comes off its first win under new head coach Rami Hadar. The game marks a return for Sonny Weems to the club when he got his European start, while Zalgiris coach Sarunas Jasikevicius faces his former team, which he led to back-to-back EuroLeague crowns in 2004 and 2005. The teams play with very different styles; Maccabi is second in the league in scoring (92.3 ppg.), while Zalgiris is second-bottom (74 ppg.), which could lead to interesting point guard matchups.
After a dramatic road win, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens (2-1) returns home to face Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (2-1), which also comes off an uplifting result. Zvezda center Ognjen Kuzmic returns to face the club with whom he debuted in the EuroLeague just last season. The outside shot could be a key factor as the Greens are toed for the most threes through three games (31), while Zvezda’s 40% three-point accuracy is fourth-best in the competition.
The final game in Round 4 sees two teams coming off tough loses, FC Barcelona Lassa (1-2) against Brose Bamberg (1-2). Barcelona continues to battle an injury bug and may be short-handed in this game as well. Barcelona enters Round 4 ranked last in the league in scoring (68.7 ppg.) and with the second-most turnovers (15 TOpg.), which it will look to change at home. Bamberg, with blew a late double-digit lead in its last game, has committed the fewest turnovers (9 TOpg.), but is also among the bottom in offensive rebounding (7.7 orpg.), too.