Top 16, Round 3: Madrid, CSKA, Olympiacos still perfect!
The third week of the Top 16 action offered plenty excitement and great basketball, with more success for the road warriors. For the second time during this Top 16, road teams won five of eight matches on Thursday and Friday. Among the road winners were three teams that improved to 3-0 in the new phase: Real Madrid and Olympiacos Piraues kept their perfect Top 16 record intact, while CSKA Moscow remained undefeated for the season.
There was high-drama in the Game of the Week, as the reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv held off FC Barcelona 70-68. Maccabi snapped an eight-game losing streak to Barcelona, and improved to a 2-1 record after building several leads throughout the game, but always allowing the visitors to rally back. An 11-0 run in the fourth quarter put the hosts up 66-56, but Barcelona had a chance to win until Devin Smith made a huge block on Maciej Lampe's game-tying layup attempt with 3 seconds to play, after which Jeremy Pargo made free throws to seal the win. Pargo collected 20 points and 7 assists, while Smith chipped in 15 points and 5 boards. In the German capital, Real Madrid handled ALBA Berlin 61-79 to improve to 3-0 atop the group standings. Madrid broke the game open in the third quarter with a rain of three-pointers, pulling away 44-55 lead and never looking back. Sergio Llull led the winners with 13 points, while Sergio Rodriguez added 12 and 7 assists. On Friday night, Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul held off winless Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 65-74, picking up its first road victory of the Euroleague season. With many lead changes, and neither team holding lead bigger than 6 points for 35 minutes, Galatasaray scored on six consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, and with clutch baskets from Carlos Arroyo and Justin Carter pulled away for victory. Vladimir Micov paced the winners with 12 points, Arroyo had 11, while Carter scored all of his 10 points in the final 5 minutes of the game. Getting back to its own winning ways, Panathinaikos Athens cruised past Zalgiris Kaunas 77-58. The Greens used their defense to hold Zalgiris to 9 third-quarter points and break the game open after 30 minutes. Six of seven Panathinaikos scorers reached double digits. Nikos Pappas led the way with 14 points, and James Gist had 13 in victory. Both Galatasaray and Panathinaikos improved to 2-1 records.
Two teams remain in a share of the top spot in Group F – CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos Piraeus. On Thursday, in a battle between previously undefeated Top 16 teams, CSKA Moscow held off Anadolu Efes Istanbul 69-78 on the road, to keep its perfect Euroleague record intact. CSKA has won 13 of 13 games this season after pulling away with a 2-12 run in the final three minutes of a hard-fought game. Nando De Colo matched his career-high with 22 points, with 11 of them coming in the fourth quarter. He also had 7 rebounds and 4 steals while Aaron Jackson finished the game with 21 points for CSKA which was without forward Sonny Weems. On Friday, in an outstanding battle between Turkish Airlines Euroleague giants that went down to the wire, Olympiacos Piraeus edged Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul 68-74 on the road after finishing the game with a 0-9 run. Vassilis Spanoulis was clutch in the crunch time, scoring the go-ahead triple with 17.8 seconds left. Spanoulis finished with 16 points, while Matt Lojeski paced the winners with 18. Andrew Goudelock led Fenerbahce with 23 points. Meanwhile, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria and EA7 Emorio Armani Milan registered their first Top 16 wins. Laboral claimed 81-74 victory over Nizhny Novgorod thanks to a late 16-1 run that turned a 65-70 deficit into a 10-point lead. Mike James was Laboral's top scorer with 14 points, while Colton Iverson had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Rochestie was nearly unstoppable, hitting 6 of 7 three-pointers for 24 points to lead Nizhny. EA7 Milan beat Unicaja Malaga 77-84 behind 20 points from Alessandro Gentile, while Linas Kleiza added 15, including back-to-back three-point shots that put the visitors up 69-76, sealing the outcome down the stretch.
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