Top 16, Round 1: Out of the gate in the Top 16!
The inevitable split in the group standings after the first week of the Top 16 has left an even amount of winners and losers, but perhaps some of each are moreso than others. Defense was certainly the name of the game in the new round, as two of the four new groups saw no team score more than 74 points. That was the case in Group D, where two home winners prevailed, one with a record. Montepaschi dominated Partizan 71-54 at home in Siena, Italy by setting a new, single-game team steals record with 29. Montepaschi also owned the previous record, 27, dating to February of 2003. Bootsy Thornton had 8 steals himself, while Ksystof Larvinovic scored 18 points. Group D's other winnner was another attention-getter, as Efes Pilsen plowed past defending champ Panathinaikos 74-64 as Drew Nicholas exploded for 29 points. The other low-scoring home winners came in Group G, but that didn't mean it lacked for fireworks, not with both games decided by a total of 3 points. In one of the greatest escapes in Euroleague history, CSKA Moscow rallied from 11 points behind with under 3 minutes left to see Trajan Langdon's three-pointer on the buzzer beat Lottomatica Roma 72-71 in the Russian capital. Langdon led CSKA with 22 points. Meanwhile, after head coach Dusko Ivanovic was fired just hours before gametime, AXA F.C. Barcelona defeated Unicaja 64-62 as Jaka Lakovic scored 14 points. Scoring was easier to come by as a pair of road winners took the quick upper hand in Group E. Fenerbahce Ulker sprung a major surprise by downing Aris TT Bank on the road in Greece, 88-96. Will Solomon starred with 23 points, but a quartet of young big men - Emir Preldzic, Semih Erden, Oguz Savas and Omer Asik - combined for 41 points on 14-for-20 two-point shooting. Meanwhile, always-dangerous Tau Ceramica proved so again by silencing Lietuvos Rytas 81-84 on the road as Tiago Splitter had 17 points. Tau survived a 38-23 disadvantage in rebounding by forcing 17 turnovers on L. Rytas. And finally, in Group F, home and road winners split two games. Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv racked up an all-important 67-75 victory against Olympiacos in Greece to spoil the Euroleague bench debut of Panagiotis Giannakis with the Reds. MVP for January Terrence Morris continued strong with 16 points and 11 rebounds for Maccabi, which lost another big man, Marcus Fizer, early in the game to injury. Real Madrid had to sweat out its home opener until the closing seconds before shaking off Zalgiris 88-85. Charles Smith bracketed an 11-0 takeover run early in the final quarter with a pair of three-point shots while Felipe Reyes and Louis Bullock scored 17 each for Madrid.