The 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season is finally here! The 10-game round-robin regular season features 24 teams split into four groups of six squads each. The best four teams from each group will advance to the Top 16. This season features 11 national champions and nine clubs that have previously lifted the continental crown! The Road to the Final Four in Berlin starts with 12 exciting games evenly split with six apiece on Thursday and Friday.
In a battle between the reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the Eurocup champions, Khimki Moscow Region took care of Real Madrid 84-70 at home. Marko Todorovic led the winners with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Khimki got off to a strong start, built a double-digit lead by halftime and boosted it 59-43 midway through the third quarter en route to a convincing win. Fenerbahce Istanbul rallied for a hard-fought 74-67 home win over FC Bayern Munich. Bayern used a 2-16 first-quarter run to grab the lead and cruised through three quarters. But Bobby Dixon hit 2 of his 4 triples in the fourth quarter, before Luigi Datome and Bogdan Bogdanovic knocked down clutch shots later to secure the victory. Datome scored 15 points and Kostas Sloukas had 13 in victory. In the group's opening game on Thursday, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade defeated Strasbourg 81-59 in the Serbian capital to get its campaign to a winning start. Maik Zirbes was unstoppable inside with 18 points and 7 rebounds, as Zvezda used a 15-2 second-quarter run to grab the lead for good, and later build the margin and cruise to victory.
Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Cedevita Zagreb 76-61 in a contest played in Crete. The Reds scored the final 11 points of the third quarter, breaking the game wide open as Georgios Printezis paced the team with 20 points and 8 rebounds while Patric Young collected 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. On Friday, Anadolu Efes Istanbul soared past Limoges CSP 77-89. Jon Diebler hit 6 threes and scored 21 points in his Euroleague debut, while Thomas Heurtel dished 15 assists, which tied him for the second most in competition history. And EA7 Emporio Armani Milan held on to beat Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz 78-76. Jamel McLean’s 13 points paced five Milan scorers in double-figures. The home team led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before Laboral rallied late.
In the opening game of the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season, Turkish champion Pinar Karisyaka Izmir made a memorable debut by downing FC Barcelona Lassa 71-62. Behind the play of Colton Iverson, Karsiyaka took the lead for good on the final play of the first half, then used runs of 8-0 and 10-0 in the third quarter to open a 54-38 margin and never look back. Iverson finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while Kenny Gabriel posted 12 points and 10 rebounds in victory. In a high-profile matchup on Friday, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar defeated Panathinaikos Athens 81-70. It was a 1-point game with 10 minutes to go, but Lokomotiv found a go-to guy in Chris Singleton, who followed a step-back triple with a wild three-point play in a 12-0 run that sealed the outcome. Singleton led the winners with 16 points and 9 rebounds. And Zalgiris Kaunas rallied late to beat Stelmet Zielona Gora 62-66. The Polish champs seemed on course for an impressive victory when they took a double-digit lead late in the third quarter, but Paulius Jankunas, Olivier Hanlan and Brock Motum played big roles in leading a fourth-quarter comeback. Jaunkunas finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, while debutants Motum and Hanlan registered 16 and 14 points, respectively.
CSKA Moscow downed Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 100-69 to open its Euroleague campaign in style in the Russian capital. CSKA took control early on, opened a 15-point margin at halftime and then behind Nando De Colo made it a 25-point game through three quarters. De Colo led the winners with 17 points, Milos Teodosic added 15, while Aaron Jackson had 12 and 7 assists in the big win. Unicaja Malaga topped Brose Baskets Bamberg 76-71 to get off to a strong start of its own. After a close first half, Mindaugas Kuzminskas took over after the break, leading Unicaja to a 63-49 margin through three quarters. The hosts kept a safe margin throughout the fourth quarter as Kuzminskas led the winners with 18 points, while Will Thomas added 11. In a game that saw several swings, Euroleague newcomer Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul rallied late to force overtime and edge Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 83-74. Sassari had a 61-66 advantage entering the final minute, but Milko Bjelica hit a triple with 16 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 66-66, then Reggie Redding and Emir Preldzic scored key baskets in the extra session, leading the hosts to their premier win in the competition. Preldzic had an all-round effort with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, while Milko Bjelica finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds for Darussafaka.
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