Game Center, Regular Season Round 19: Home Cooking!
Round 19 opened Thursday with four home winners, on the heels of Round 18 in which all but one team won on the road. That lone road warrior, Khimki Moscow Region, completed a perfect week with a rout of Olympiacos Piraeus, while Zalgiris Kaunas, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and FC Barcelona Lassa all bounced back from losses to salvage the week. On Friday, Anadolu Efes hosts Fenerbahce Dogus in another instalment of the Istanbul derby, Real Madrid visits Unicaja Malaga in a clash of Spanish clubs and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens welcomes CSKA Moscow.
Khimki Moscow Region 82-54 Olympiacos Piraeus
Khimki finished its first-ever double-victory week in style on Thursday by crushing second-place Olympiacos 82-54 at home thanks to pyrotechnic first-half scoring and consistently solid defense. Against an Olympiacos team that allowed just 73 points per game to its first 18 opponents, Khimki led 49-25 at halftime, raised that margin to 27 points after three quarters and danced to victory. EuroLeague top scorer Alexey Shved had 19 points and dished 7 assists to lead the winners. Charles Jenkins matched his personal high with 4 three-pointers among his 16 points, while Malcolm Thomas scored 12. Olympiacos got 11 points from Kyle Wiltjer, but was bested in every single statistical category except fouls. Khimki rose to 11-8 and solidified its seventh-place standing, while Olympiacos fell to 13-6 to jeopardize its exclusive hold on second place.
Zalgiris Kaunas 86-82 Valencia Basket
Zalgiris Kaunas held on to a valuable 86-82 home win over Valencia Basket on Thursday after surviving a big second-half rally by the visitors. With Kevin Pangos running the show and his teammates making shots, Zalgiris opened the game with 13-0 run and led by 16 at halftime. But Erick Green and Tibor Pleiss led a comeback and Valencia took its first lead midway through the fourth quarter. The hosts made more plays down the stretch, however, and pulled out a win that boosted their record to 12-7. Pangos finished with 11 points and 15 assists, the most in the EuroLeague this season, while Axel Toupane paced the hosts with 18 points. Pleiss had 20 points for Valencia, which dropped to 6-13 on the season.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 89-75 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Maccabi protected its place in the playoff zone with an 89-75 victory over Crvena Zvezda on Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena. The hosts bounced back from a whooping in Greece by taking care of the Serbian champs to improve to 10-9 and keep eighth place. Zvezda lost its third straight game to fall to 7-12. Pierre Jackson scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half to lead the winners, who finished the first half on a 9-0 tear for a 47-29 halftime advantage. The margin reached the 20s on a DeShaun Thomas triple to open the second half. Zvezda rallied to get within 7 in the third quarter, but Jackson took charge and Maccabi closed out the win long before the final buzzer.
FC Barcelona Lassa 81-66 Brose Bamberg
FC Barcelona Lassa bounced back from recent losses by topping Brose Bamberg 81-66 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Both teams now have 7-12 records. After trailing by double figures, Brose rallied to 67-66 with over three minutes left. Rakim Sanders rescued the hosts with a three-pointer, a layup-plus-foul and a huge dunk off a steal in scoring the first 8 points in a 14-0 run that won the game. Sanders led the winners with 17 points plus 6 steals. Maodo Lo paced Brose with 14 points.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul
It's difficult to know what to expect from a big Istanbul derby as Fenerbahce (12-6) returns to the Sinan Erdem Dome, the site of its Final Four triumph at the end of last season. Efes (5-13) has been involved in several high-scoring shootouts in recent weeks, while Fenerbahce boasts the best defense in the competition, allowing just 71.3 points per game. Efes's last three games saw the winners score 90, 104 and 110 points, and Ergin Ataman's new-look offense would certainly prefer a fast-moving, offensive battle. One question is whether Fenerbahce can overcome tiredness after an intense battle with Panathinaikos two days ago to mount another sterling defensive effort.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs CSKA Moscow
After its big battle with Fenerbahce on Wednesday, Panathinaikos (12-6) continues its demanding week by trying to protect its unbeaten home record against league-leading CSKA (14-4), a high-profile clash that could be vital in the race for home-court advantage in the playoffs. There are fascinating match-ups all over the court, including a top-class backcourt battle between the league's best assist-maker, Nick Calathes (8.2 apg), and the third-best scorer, Nando De Colo (16.9 ppg). And a pair of former Olympiacos big men, Kyle Hines and Othello Hunter, will surely relish their return to Greece for a marquee match-up against Chris Singleton and James Gist.
Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz vs AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan
After a last-gasp loss in Madrid two days ago, Baskonia (8-10) will attempt to recover positive feelings against a Milan team (5-13) that did just that by gaining a confidence-boosting home win over Unicaja on Wednesday. Andrew Goudelock hit 6 three-pointers in that game and with long-range gunners like Rodrigue Beaubois and Janis Timma on the other side, there could be plenty of downtown strikes in this battle. Baskonia dearly needs the win after losing three of its last four games, while Milan is looking for its first road win since Round 7.
Unicaja Malaga vs Real Madrid
The double-round week finishes with an all-Spanish affair as Real Madrid (12-6) seeks to extend its surge up the standings by increasing a seven-game winning streak that is already the longest enjoyed by any team this season. Attempting to stop that train is Unicaja (7-11), which has dropped off the pace in the race for the playoffs by losing its last three games. Madrid has better offensive statistics across the board, with an average team PIR of 100.2 against Unicaja's 86.1 But the host has plenty of presence in the paint and will look to James Augustine, Giorgi Shermadini and Jeff Brooks to slow down in-form Walter Tavares.
Be ready for the culmination of four days of intense competition as Round 19 comes your way on EuroLeague.net and EuroLeague.TV on Thursday and Friday!