Game Center, Round 1: Offense rules in openers
The 2018-19 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague opened on Thursday and Friday with a flurry of offense that produced an even split of four home and four road winners. It didn't matter, home or way, the shots kept falling. Seven of the eight winners scored 87 points or more, while Real Madrid's 109 points, the most this week, are a Round 1 record for home teams. Plenty of fun was had to get the new EuroLeague season rolling!
CSKA Moscow 95-75 FC Barcelona Lassa
CSKA Moscow overpowered FC Barcelona Lassa 95-75 in the opening game of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season at Megasport Arena in the Russian capital. Cory Higgins made 5 of 7 three-pointers en route to a game-high 18 points for the victors and Nando De Colo scored 17. For CSKA, the win was its 13th straight at home. Kyle Kuric paced Barcelona with 15 points in his EuroLague debut. After trailing by more than 20, Barcelona rallied to within 9 at the start of the fourth quarter, but a 12-2 CSKA run led by De Colo and Nikita Kurbanov wrapped up the win.
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 89-84 Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Panathinaikos got its season off to a winning start by holding off visiting Maccabi 89-84 in the Greek capital. The leads were traded back and forth in the first three quarters before the hosts used a strong finish to the third and start of the fourth quarter to create some breathing room and pave the way to victory. Matt Lojeski was the top scorer for Panathinaikos with 20 points, Keith Langford added 13 and Nick Calathes dished 14 assists. Scottie Wilbekin scored 24 and delivered 8 assists for Maccabi.
FC Bayern Munich 71-90 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Anadolu Efes dominated FC Bayern Munich 71-90 in becoming the first team to win a road game in the 2018-19 season. An impressive all-round team effort featured five Efes scorers in double figures, led by Brock Motum with 14. The efficiency of the visitors was reflected in their outstanding long-range shooting, with nine different players converting 12 of 20 three-point attempts (60%). New signings Shane Larkin and James Anderson also made their marks for Efes with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Nihad Dedovic led Bayern with 17 points.
Real Madrid 109-93 Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul
Reigning champion Real Madrid started its title defense by downing Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul 109-93 in the Spanish capital on Thursday. Anthony Randolph led six Madrid scorers in double figures with 16 points and Jaycee Carroll added 14. Ray McCallum paced Darussafaka with 18 points. The hosts outscored the EuroCup champs by at least 7 points in each of the first three quarters and scored a whopping 38 in the third quarter to lead 91-69 en route to a convincing win.
Fenerbahce Istanbul 97-72 Herbalife Gran Canaria
Fenerbahce led from start to finish en route to a 97-72 win over debutant Gran Canaria on Friday. The hosts opened a double-figure lead in the first half and never lost the grip of the game. Jan Vesely starred with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists in less than 22 minutes. Nikola Kalinic added 16 points for the winners, Luigi Datome and Joffrey Lauvergne 12 apiece. Christopher Evans scored 13 points and Anzejs Pasecniks 12 for the visitors, whose 40-year-old guard, Albert Oliver, became the EuroLeague's oldest scorer this century with a runner in the first quarter. Fenerbahce held Gran Canaria to just 2 points in the first 7 minutes as a basket-plus-foul from Jan Vesely opened a 13-2 lead. Oliver stopped the bleeding, but Fenerbahce never let its opponents come much closer, going up 49-35 at haltime and raising the difference the rest of the way.
Zalgiris Kaunas 79-87 KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Baskonia started the season in style, downing Zalgiris 79-87 in front of more than 15,000 fans at Zalgirio Arena on Friday. Jayson Granger paced the winners with 15 points, hitting 5 of 7 three-point shots. Shavon Shields added 14 points, Toko Shengelia 12, Marcelinho Huertas and Matt Janning 11 each for Baskonia. Nate Wolters had 19 points for Zalgiris while Arturas Milaknis added 12. Wolters and Laurynas Birutis helped Zalgiris take a 24-22 lead after 10 minutes. Ilimane Diop gave Baskonia a four-point lead, 30-34, then threes by Granger and Darrun Hilliard kept the visitors in charge, 39-42, at halftime. Janning and Shields pushed the guests ahead 46-51 after the break. Huertas had 5 quick points before an alley-oop dunk by Vincent Poirier made it 49-59. The guests kept a 53-63 margin after 30 minutes, extended it to 59-76 behind an unstoppable Granger, and cruised to a well-deserved road win.
Khimki Moscow Region 66-87 Olympiacos Piraeus
The Reds started life under new head coach David Blatt with a commanding 66-87 road win despite 34 points, including 8 three-pointers, from Khimki's Alexey Shved. The outcome never looked in doubt after Olympiacos recovered from a slow start to move clear in the second quarter. Zach LeDay led the visitors in his debut with 14 points. Another newcomer, Sasha Vezenkov, added 13 points, while Janis Strelnieks and Georgios Printezis both scored 11. Other than Shved, Anthony Gill was Khimki’s only scorer in double figures, with 13 points. Khimki made a fast start behind Gill, who scored his team's first 7 points on a 12-0 run to establish a big early lead. But Olympiacos fought back with a 0-11 run of their own and added the first 9 points of the second quarter to take command. Another flurry capped by a wild buzzer-beating triple from Vasilis Spanoulis made it 34-44 at the interval. A three-pointer from Nigel Williams-Goss soon made it a 15-point game, then a long-range strike and a driving layup from Vezenkov maintained momentum until Strelnieks effectively killed the game at 56-73 with less than 8 minutes remaining.
Buducnost Voli Podgorica 71-82 AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan
Milan spoiled Buducnost's return to the EuroLeague with a 71-82 road victory in the Montenegrin capital. Vladimir Micov led five Milan scorers in double figures with 15 points. Nemanja Nedovic had 14 plus 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Mike James picked up 13 points and 5 assists, Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 12 points and Arturas Gudaitis 11 for the winners. Buducnost, playing its first EuroLeague game in 15 years, got 22 points from Earl Clark with Edwin Jackson adding 12 and Nikola Ivanovic 11. The hosts were ice cold early while Jeff Brooks and James combined for 12 points as Milan ledt 7-22. Buducnost got some momentum with Jackson and Ivanovic hitting from long range to make it 23-30. Kuzminskas scored 6 straight points to put Milan up 31-42 at the break. Clark and Alen Omic helped Buducnost get to within 41-47 before Micov's 2 three-pointers kept Milan in front 51-57 after three quarters. Nearly 3 minutes passed before Buducnost scored again as the gap grew to 51-65. The hosts once again came back as Clark's three-pointer made it 71-74 with 3 minutes left. But Micov answered yet again with a tough layup and Buducnost could not score the rest of the game.