Regular Season, Round 1: Week 1 lives up to thrill factor!
Russian flair has been a theme already of regular season Week 1 as an old standby from that country provided new thrills on Wednesday and a new team from the same region matched the fun on Thursday. That newcomer, BC Khimki, topped mighty Real Madrid 84-81 in overtime in its first-ever Euroleague game. Carlos Cabezas came off the bench for 20 points to lead the winners. The night before, when four out of six road teams won, the fun also came in the first game completed as CSKA Moscow topped Maroussi 65-66 in Athens on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Victor Khryapa. After that, several favorites won going away and several players made their Euroleague debuts memorable. One was Linas Kleiza, who put up 23 points as Olympiacos downed Orleans 94-72. Another Lithuanian newcomer, Martynas Pocius, fired in 16 as Zalgiris dropped Asvel 71-52 at home in Kaunas. Defensive records fell as Montepaschi strong-armed Cibona 40-85 in Zagreb, the lowest points ever scored by a Euroleague home team. Similar road dominance was seen as Regal FC Barcelona won 59-82 over Fenerbahce Ulker as Pete Mickeal had a career-high 26. The fourth road winner, however, was a team that had never set foot before on a Euroleague court: EWE Baskets Oldenburg won 61-62 at Asseco Prokom as Ricky Paulding poured in 23 points. Staying up north in Thursday's second game, before 10,000 fans in Vilnius, Lietuvos Rytas stopped Efes Pilsen 77-70 as Martynas Gecevicius exploded for 21 points.
Two of the last games to finish the week featured fourth-quarter comebacks by visiting teams. Despite injuries and foul trouble, defending champion Panathinaikos held off Armani Jeans Milano 67-75 as Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis shined with 19 points and 5 assists. Unicaja rallied past Partizan 64-72 to become the week's sixth road winner behind Joel Freeland's 19 points. And Lottomatica Roma thrashed Caja Laboral 77-65 as Ibby Jaaber and Kennedy Hutson paced the winners with 18 points apiece. The season officially started last week when, in the traditional opening game, Maccabi Electra rolled past Union Olimpija 85-65 before 11,000 fans at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.