Regular Season, Round 1: First victories taste sweet!
The 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague tipped off with a three-day opening week. There was no shortage of excitement and drama, with 6 games decided by 7 points or less. Home teams ruled in Round 1, however, winning in 9 out of 12 contests. Among them were Nizhny Novgorod, which made history with its first-ever Euroleague victory, and the reigning champ Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, which also won its home opener
Nizhny Novgorod edged fellow newcomer Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 88-86 in a thriller, for a memorable Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut win. After an early 19-point deficit, Nizhny rallied in the second quarter behind Trey Thompkins, Artsiom Parakhouski and Tarance Kinsey, before Taylor Rochestie joined in the second half, helping build the lead and hold on to it in the dramatic finish. Kinsey scored 17 points for Nizhny, while Thompkins and Parakhouski had 16 apiece. In a battle of Turkish Airlines Euroleague classics, Real Madrid defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 80-71 in the Spanish capital to get its first win in Group A. The visitors led 32-35 at halftime, but an 11-0 run put Madrid ahead for good as Felipe Reyes paced the winners with 11 points. James Anderson had 19 for Zalgiris. On Thursday, Anadolu Efes Istanbul opened its campaign downing Unics Kazan 82-76 at home. Efes took the lead for good with a 10-0 run at the start of the second quarter, and behind play from a former Eurocup MVP Dontaye Draper and Nenad Krstic opened 54-36 lead that lasted to the finish. Draper had a career-high 16 points, and Krsitc added 15 in victory, while Keith Langford led Unics with 19 points.
Reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv topped Limoges 92-76, opening the defense of its title with a home. Maccabi, which made 9-of-19 three-pointers, pulled away for good at the end of the third quarter with a 21-7 spurt. Jeremy Pargo collected 20 points and nine assists while Devin Smith had a double-double of 13 points, 12 rebounds, along with two blocks. Adrien Moerman collected 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Unicaja Malaga downed Cedevita Zagreb 63-78 to open its new Euroleague campaign with a road win. Unicaja took control of the game in the second quarter, and kept the margin safe behind Ryan Toolson, who netted 20 points, matching his Euroleague career-high. Fran Vazquez collected 13 plus 8 rebounds in victory. On Friday, CSKA Moscow topped ALBA Berlin 68-84 on the road. Under new head coach Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA grabbed control of the game right away, and took the lead for good in the second quarter. Sasha Kaun led six double-figure scorers with 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Milos Teodosic and Sonny Weems added 15 points each.
Home teams picked up hard fought wins on the opening night of Group C on Friday. In a very intense showdown, FC Barcelona downed FC Bayern Munich 83-81 at home. With the visitors hanging close throughout the night, back-to-back three-pointers by Brad Oleson and Marcelinho Huertas sealed the outcome down the stretch. Last season's Eurocup Finals MVP Justin Doellman paced the winners with 16 points, while Oleson and two-time All-Euroleague center Ante Tomic each added 15. Panathinaikos Athens picked up 84-77 win at home over debutant PGE Turow Zgorzelec. AJ Slaughter and Nikos Pappas both led the way for the six-time Euroleague champion Panathinaikos with 16 points. Meanwhile, Diamantidis, who played only 15 minutes, moved into a three-way tie for the most games played in Euroleague history with his 226th career appearance, evening him with Sergi Vidal and Sarunas Jasikevicius. Mardy Collins had with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists for Turow. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul pulled out 77-74 win over the visiting EA7 Emporio Armani Milan to get a winning start to its campaign. After the teams exchanged leads for a majority of the second half, Fenerbahce got a victory thanks to some late long-range heroics from Ricky Hickman and Andrew Goudelock. It was Goudelock who paced the winners with 19 points, while Nemanja Bjelica scored 11, also playing an important role down the stretch.
In the first game of the season on Wednesday, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria ran away from visiting Euroleague debutante Neptunas Klaipeda by 88-69 as Davis Bertans debuted for the home team with 20 points, while Thomas Heurtel posted a double-double of 13 points, 12 assists, the latter matching his career high. In this season’s first Game of the Week, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade came away with a huge 76-68 home win against Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul. The hosts used a big second quarter to pull away to 46-30 halftime lead, and they never looked back. Big man Boban Marjanovic led the winners with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds while Marcus Williams added 15 and 7 assists. Olympiacos Piraeus survived a dramatic ending, edging Valencia Baskets 68-71 for an important road win. Teams changed leads throughout the contest, and game was tied at 68-68 in the final minute, but Olympiacos grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in the last 21 seconds, and Kostas Sloukas made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 6.8 seconds to win it for the Reds. Vassilis Spanoulis led the winners with 21 points and 5 assists, while Matt Lojeski and Sloukas had 14 apiece.
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