Regular Season Round 1: A new era blasts off!
A new era in European professional basketball began with the opening tipoff of the 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season! The new competition format features 16 teams who will play each other twice in a 30-round regular season – a first in major European team sports – and assures fans far and wide that all the famous clubs and stars will cross paths constantly during the next six months. The best eight teams after the regular season will gain access to the best-of-five playoffs, and those series winners will go for the glory at the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Istanbul, Turkey!
In the season opener on Wednesday, Real Madrid had to battle hard to defeat Olympiacos Piraeus 83-65 in the Spanish capital. Sergio Llull scored 15 of his 22 points in the first quarter to get Madrid going, but Vassilis Spanoulis helped keep Olympiacos close, and with aid from Georgios Printezis and Khem Birch, the Reds went in front 49-51 in the third quarter. But Rudy Fernandez and Llull sparked a 9-0 run to put Madrid up for good, and a strong finish by the hosts and a game-ending 12-2 run gave them an 18-point victory. Teen sensation Luka Doncic added 11 points and Jaycee Carroll contributed 10. Matt Lojeski and veteran leader Vassilis Spanoulis kept Olympiacos in touch with 14 and 12 points respectively.
Thursday’s early game saw CSKA Moscow open the defense of its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague crown in style by routing Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul 84-109. In doing so, CSKA set a club record for most points in a EuroLeague game. Nando De Colo led five CSKA scorers in double figures with 22 points with just 4 missed shots, while Milos Teodosic shined with 20 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting and 11 assists. CSKA led by 12 at halftime before Alex Tyus sparked a third-quarter run that brought the hosts within 5, however De Colo soon restored a double-digit margin and De Colo stayed hot with 5 points in a 0-9 run to open the fourth quarter that put the game on ice. Sinan Guler led Galatasaray with 16 points and 5 assists and Tyus added 15 points.
In a high-scoring showdown that came down to the final second, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan edged Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 99-97 at home on Thursday. Milan led 93-83 with less than two minutes remaining, but an outstanding Andrew Goudelock brought Maccabi back in the game and free throws by Devin Smith got the guests within 98-97 with 8 seconds left. After Hickman split free throws, Guy Pnini sent a length-of-the-court pass to Sylven Landesberg, whose layup attempt was blocked by Jamel McLean at the buzzer. Milan’s tally tied its second-most in a EuroLeague game, which it has now achieved three times – two of which came versus Maccabi. Milan’s record for points in a EuroLeague game is 101 in a road win at PGE Turow Zgorzelec in December 2014. Two former Maccabi players led Milan: Hickman scored 22 points and Milan Macvan added 18. Goudelock paced Maccabi with 27 points.
Darusafaka Dogus Istanbul rallied from a 16-point second half deficit on the road to edge Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 70-73 on Thursday night. In the EuroLeague opener for both teams, Darussafaka trailed for 38 minutes, including a 46-30 deficit early in the third quarter, but came back behind Will Clyburn who made a stellar debut in the competition by scoring 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. Dairis Bertans also had a big second half, scoring 11 of 13 points after the break. Ognjen Kuzmic paced Zvezda with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
In the first game on Friday, FC Barcelona Lassa roared back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Unics Kazan 63-69 at Basket Hall Kazan. Justin Doellman shined with 23 points to pace the winners but it was scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro who came up big when his team needed him most. Navarro buried a pair of threes and netted 8 points in a 0-13 fourth-quarter run that put Barcelona ahead for good. The victory left Barcelona with a 6-0 record all-time against Unics.
Fenerbahce Istanbul edged Brose Bamberg 67-66 in a game that came down to the very final shot on Friday at the Ulker Sports Arena. It was an extremely close contest throughout, with neither team leading by more than 8 points at any stage, and Bamberg had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Nicolo Melli’s tough long-range three-point attempt did not drop and Fenerbahce held on. Bogdan Bogdanovic paced the home team with 18 points, only missing 2 shots all night. Darius Miller scored 17 points to pace Bamberg.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens topped visiting Zalgiris Kaunas 84-76 on Friday at Olympic Sports Center Athens. Nikos Pappas led the way with 19 points and Chris Singleton added 13 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. The visitors held a slim margin going into the last 10 minutes, however Pappas hit a pair of three-pointers during a 10-3 run that put Panathinaikos in front for good. Pappas’s steal and a Nick Calathes triple with 2:17 left opened up a 77-68 lead, the biggest of the night, and helped the Greens avoid drama in the final moments. Brock Motum scored a career-high 19 points for Zalgiris.
In a fun-to-watch showdown in front of over 10,000 fans at Fernando Buesa Arena that literally went down to the final shot, Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz edged Anadolu Efes Istanbul 85-84. Andrea Bargnani marked his EuroLeague return with an impressive performance and 26 points, while Tornike Shengelia added 16 points and 9 rebounds, which helped his team outrebound Efes 40-27. An 11-1 fourth-quarter run helped the hosts take charge, but Efes bounced back and had a shot to win it in the final seconds, only to see Bryce Cotton’s three-point attempt bounce out. Derrick Brown paced Efes with 16 points.
Buckle up and get ready for the most exciting Turkish Airlines Euroleague season yet!