Regular Season Round 10: Excitement guaranteed
Unics Kazan got back to winning ways by beating EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 100-79 in the Round 10 opener and breaking its club scoring record in a EuroLeague game. Its previous best was 99 points set earlier this season in a road loss to Anadolu Efes Istanbul, but this time the scoring record translated into a victory that broke Unics's three-game losing streak and improved its record to 3-7. Milan dropped to 4-6. Unics took control of the scoreboard with a 16-2 first-quarter run and never trailed again. The hosts had a 57-43 advantage at halftime before Milan got within 4 points, 73-69, at the end of the third quarter. A 10-0 fourth-quarter run capped by Vadim Panin from downtown restored a double-digit lead and Unics never looked back. Keith Langford netted 25 points to pace Unics.
Fenerbahce Istanbul moved into second place in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague after a thrilling 78-77 victory over Real Madrid in the Game of the Week on Thursday at Fenerbahce Ulker Sports Arena. James Nunnally had his best game yet in a Fenerbahce uniform with 18 points, including a free throw with 1.7 seconds left that decided the game. The result left both teams with 7-3 recordsit was also Fenerbahce’s fourth straight win against Madrid. Nunnally led six Fenerbahce scorers in double figures, including Ekpe Udoh, who posted 14 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Randolph fueled Madrid in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points on perfect shooting and Sergio Llull tallied 14 points and 8 assists, but was also 0 for 6 from downtown.
Vitaly Fridzon nailed a baseline jumper as time expired to lift CSKA Moscow to a thrilling 88-90 road win over Brose Bamberg on Thursday night. CSKA improved to a league-best 9-1 record, while Bamberg remains in the cellar at 2-8 after a fantastic game that saw Bamberg rally from a 19-point third quarter deficit and take a slim lead in the fourth quarter. But CSKA saw its magician Milos Teodosic hit 7 three-pointers and finish with 31 points along with 8 assists to lead it to victory. Teodosic had 15 of those points in the fourth quarter and Andrey Vorontsevich scored 15 on the night, including a key pair of free throws with 10.8 seconds left in the game. Nicolo Melli was spectacular for Bamberg with 26 points and Daniel Theis fought his way to 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul relied on stellar offensive rebounding and strong defense to ambush Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv with a 77-86 road win on Thursday. Efes improved to 5-5 after having started the season with three defeats. Maccabi dropped to the same record, ending its three-game winning streak. Derrick Brown dominated the first half and finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds for the winners. Tyler Honeycutt was everywhere in the second half to total 21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. They each had 4 offensive rebounds of their team's 13-5 edge in that category. Meanwhile, Efes had 9 steals and forced Maccabi into 21 turnovers, its highest total at home in the EuroLeague this century. Maccabi got 13 points each from Maik Zirbes and Devin Smith.
Friday's action begins in Istanbul with two teams gunning for their sixth wins, Darussafaka Dogus and visiting Olympiacos Piraeus. Both have struggled with sharing the ball, ranking 14th and 15th in assists respectively, but the visiting team will look to use its inside dominance: Olympiacos has claimed 37.4 rebounds per game, second-best in the league, compared to bottom-ranked Darussafaka's average of 30.2 boards.
In Belgrade, Crvena Zvezda (4-5) hosts a Zalgiris Kaunas team (3-6) looking for its first road win of the season. These two teams are the worst-ranked in overall performance index rating, with Zalgiris (80.1 per game), averaging higher than Zvezda (73). No team has allowed fewer points than Zvezda's miserly average of 74.9 per game, but Zalgiris will look to get second scoring chances through its excellent offensive rebounding skills after averaging 14.3 offensive boards per game, second best in the league.
As if the storied rivalry between FC Barcelona Lassa and Panathinaikos Athens needed any more fuel to the fire, a new element is provided this week as the visiting team’s coach Xavi Pascual returns for the first time to his former long-time home. Only Barcelona (18.3 per game) has scored fewer two-pointers than Panathinaikos (18.7 per game) but the Greek team has a major advantage from downtown, averaging a league-best 9.9 triples compared to just 6.8 per game from the Spanish host.
Finally, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (5-4) welcomes Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (3-6) and defensive rebounds should work in favour of the host, which ranks second in the league (25.8 per game) while Galatasaray averages a league-low 20.2. But the Turkish team ranks highly in several performance categories including points (83.8 per game, 5th), assists (20 per game, 3rd) and blocked shots (4.1 per game, 2nd) and will be determined to gain its first road win.
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