Game Center: Regular Season Round 19
The latest double-week of fixtures sees Round 18 take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, including one team travelling to face its former long-serving coach and a must-win local derby in the race for playoff positions.
Fenerbahce Istanbul held off Unics Kazan for an 81-86 road win on Tuesday at Basket Hall. With the win, Fenerbahce improved to 5-5 on the road and 12-7 overall, while dropping Unics to 7-12. Luigi Datome paved the way with 18 points on near-perfect shooting and Bogdan Bogdanovic tallied 16 points and 7 assists. Fenerbahce did a wonderful job of defense on Keith Langford, the league’s leading scorer, who was held to just 11 points without a single two-point shot attempt. Art Parakhouski stood tall with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting plus 9 rebounds for Unics and Orlando Johnson set a career-best with 16 points.
Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul ended its five-game winless slide against Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in emphatic fashion on Tuesday by pulling away to a 102-63 victory at home in Abdi Ipekci Arena. The result leaves both teams with 6-13 records. Galatasaray broke its own club EuroLeague records in the scoring total for a non-overtime game, in the winning margin of 39 points and in dishing 29 assists. It was Maccabi's worst loss in the EuroLeague this century, following a 100-65 defeat in Moscow to CSKA in 2014. Jon Diebler matched his career high by making 6 of 7 three-pointers en route to 21 points to lead the winners, who made 12 of 20 attempts from downtown. Andrew Goudelock led Maccabi with 22 points.
Zalgiris Kaunas bested reigning champion CSKA Moscow 79-74 at Zalgirio Arena on Tuesday. Zalgiris improved to 7-12 in the standings, while CSKA dropped to 14-5. Zalgiris grabbed its first EuroLeague win against CSKA in almost 17 years, breaking an 18-game losing streak in Europe's top competition. Kevin Pangos led the winners with 21 points and Leo Westermann tallied 10 points and 10 assists. James Augustine paced CSKA with 15 points. CSKA led 38-45 at halftime, but things changed after the break as Zalgiris improved its defense and forced the visitors into 19 turnovers.
In a battle of EuroLeague powerhouses that lived up to the expectations, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens held off FC Barcelona Lassa 71-65 on Tuesday night in the Greek capital. Panathinaikos improved to 11-8, while Barcelona lost its seventh consecutive road game and dropped to 8-11 for the season. Panathinaikos took the lead for good in the second quarter and despite rarely holding a double-digit margin, the hosts kept control thanks to forcing 21 turnovers and hitting 11 three-pointers. Ioannis Bourousis stepped up with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Greens. Tyrese Rice had 12 points for Barceloan in defeat.
Finally on Tuesday, something has to give as Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (11-7) will look for its eighth consecutive home victory while visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (10-8) has won five games in a row. Zvezda's tough defense is partly explained by claiming more steals than any other team, 8.2 per game, and the Serbian team has also conceded the second-fewest turnovers (11.5 per game). But if anyone can overcome Zvezda's defense, it might be Baskonia, which has exceeded 100 points in its last two home games.
Wednesday's action starts with a big Istanbul derby as Anadolu Efes (8-10) attempts to narrow the gap to just one game on Darussafaka Dogus (10-8). Efes's only wins in the last seven rounds have come against bottom-placed Galatasaray, while Darussafaka has been victorious in its last two games. The battle for offensive rebounds could be crucial: Efes leads the league in that category with an average of 13.5 per game, while Darussafaka is ranked third with 11.2 per game.
Brose Bamberg (7-11) will attempt to avenge a heavy Round 13 defeat to Real Madrid (13-5) as the teams meet again in Germany. Expect plenty of long-range bombs between the competition's leading three-point scorers. Madrid averages 9.8 strikes from downtown, closely followed by Bamberg with 9.7. Bamberg is looking for its fourth consecutive home win, while the visitors have won four in a row to maintain their challenge for first place.
And finally, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan (5-13) will hope that last week's victory – its first in 11 games – will propel a return to form as high-flying Olympiacos Piraeus (13-5) comes to town. The Greek giant has won nine of its last 10 games and boasts the best defense in the league, allowing just 72.8 points per game. The home team will attempt to test that record with its inside game, having converted more two-point shots (22.4 per game) than any other team.
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