Round 7: Into the double-header
The games continued to come thick and fast as the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague entered its second double-header week of fixtures, with Round 7's action taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday and Round 8 following on Thursday and Friday. There was plenty of excitement in the first batches of games with club records set, career-highs achieved, historic milestones reached and more.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul outlasted Unics Kazan 104-99 on Tuesday at Abdi Ipekci Arena. Thomas Heurtel starred with 24 points and 8 assists as Efes smashed its club record for assists with 34, which was 7 more than Efes’s previous best and 2 short of the EuroLeague mark held by Real Madrid. Jayson Granger also dished 8 assists and Derrick Brown 6 to help the club in that category. The team also made 23 of 24 free throws (95.8%), which marked the best free-throw shooting night in club history in games in which it attempted at least 10 foul shots. League-leading scorer Keith Langford led Unics with 25 points and tied a career-high with 9 assists.
In the Game of the Week, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade edged Brose Bamberg 78-79. A go-ahead power layup by Charles Jenkins with 24 seconds left sent Zvezda to the road win. Milko Bjelica led the winners with 18 points and Marko Simonovic added 17 off the bench for Zvezda, which outrebounded its opponents by 29-36, hit 41.2% of its three-point shots and limited turnovers to just 10 compared to Bamberg's 16 as the Serbian champs improved to 3-4. Nicolo Melli led the hosts with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Darius Miller added 14 for Bamberg, which dropped to 2-5.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv grabbed its second home win of the season by downing Fenerbahce Istanbul 87-77 in front of over 11,000 fans at Menora Mivtachim Arena on Tuesday. Sonny Weems led the winners with 22 points and Yogev Ohayon added a career-high 19 points for Maccabi, which was without top scorer Andrew Goudelock. Good shooting percentages (66.7% 2FG, 41.7% 3FG) and a 28-point second quarter pushed Maccabi to a 43-39 lead at halftime. The hosts rolled in the second half behind Weems and Devin Smith. Maccabi dished 25 assists, collected 13 steals and kept shooting well throughout the game to lock up the win. Ekpe Udoh scored 17 points for Fenerbahce.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan recorded its second consecutive home win by downing Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 88-76 behind 19 points from Rakim Sanders. Milan dominated the game from the very beginning, leading 27-17 after 10 minutes and extending it to 49-35 at halftime. Even though no-one in Milan got more than 5 rebounds, it outrebounded Baskonia 36-31, limiting its opponents to just 8 offensive rebounds. Milan's perimeter defense made the difference, as Baskonia made just 6 of its 22 shots from downtown (27.3%). Shane Larkin led Baskonia with a great all-around performance - 21 points, 9 assists and 4 steals. Both teams now have 4-3 records.
The only remaining unbeaten team through six games fell on Wednesday; Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul defeated reigning champion CSKA Moscow 91-83 at home to improve to 5-2 and claim a share of second place. CSKA slipped to 6-1 record. Coach David Blatt’s team took charge by opening the game on a 13-0 tear. The Muscovites came alive late to close to within 1, but Will Clyburn came through to ice the victory.
James Anderson led the winners with 20 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting and Brad Wanamaker collected 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Cory Higgins and Nando De Colo led CSKA with 17 points apiece and Milos Teodosic added 15 and 10 assists.
It was a historic night at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, where local heroes Olympiacos Piraeus defeated FC Barcelona Lassa 59-52. Vassilis Spanoulis scored 15 points and dished 6 assists – including the 1,000th assist of his storied EuroLeague career – to lead the Reds. The Olympiacos’ defensive effort held Barcelona to a record-low in scoring in the competition. The result set both teams’ record at 4-3. Erick Green added 9 points off the bench for the winners, who forced Barcelona into 17 turnovers. Jonathan Holmes led Barcelona with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Zalgiris Kaunas defeated visiting Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul 87-75 on Wednesday night in Zalgirio Arena. The win snapped Zalgiris’s four-game losing streak, and improved the team’s record to 2-5, while Galatasaray remains alone at the bottom of the standings at 1-6. Zalgiris took control behind Kevin Pangos and Brock Motum, using a 14-2 second quarter run to take the lead for good. Motum finished the game with 24 points and Leo Westermann had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Sinan Guler led Galatasaray with 15 points.
Sergio Llull masterminded an exciting victory for Real Madrid as Los Blancos moved to within one win of first place in the standings with an 87-84 triumph over Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens in a contest that went right down to the final shot at Barclaycard Center. Llull led his team with a career-high 30 points, including the crucial go-ahead score in the last minute to settle a game which was enthralling throughout. Defeat was harsh on Panathinaikos’s outstanding point guard Nick Calathes, who scored 15 points and dished 9 assists. Forwards Jeff Taylor of Madrid and James Gist of Panathinaikos both suffered injuries during the game and had to be helped off the court.