We may be at the end of 2014 but the Euroleague campaign isn’t taking much time to reflect on a great year. The Top 16 is already underway and while most teams will start this leg of their campaign on Friday the 2nd of January, there were two games taking place on Tuesday the 30th of December.
Panathinaikos Athens 83 – Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 76
The Greek side got their Top 16 campaign off to a fantastic start, defeating the reigning champions. Panathinaikos were trailing by double digits in the third quarter but managed to haul it back to 68-68 in the third quarter, thanks to an AJ Slaughter triple. Esteban Batista grabbed 16 points while Slaughter offered up 15 points, 8 of these coming in the fourth quarter. James Gist also managed to provide 15 points for the winners, with 10 of these points coming from the free throw line. DeMarcus Nelson was able to provide 12 points and 5 assists for the team in green while Dimitris Diamantidis offered 11 points and 7 assists.
Brian Ranfle and Nate Linhart both grabbed 18 points for Maccabi, who missed Devin Smith. When you are unable to call on the MVP for the month, you will definitely be at a disadvantage in the match. Other big players for Maccabi were Alex Tyus who grabbed 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks while Jeremy Pargo provided 9 assists.
Panthianikos travel to Catalonia to take on Barcelona in their next Top 16 game while Maccabi have a home game against Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade.
- Q1: 15-19
- Q2: 39-43
- Q3: 60-64
- Q4: 83-76
Galatasaray Liv Hospital 78 – Zalgiris Kaunas 69
A strong second half showing from Galatasaray was enough to take control of this game and ensure that the home side grabbed a win to get their Top 16 campaign off to a flying start. The Lithuanian side were leading 39-47 about halfway through the third quarter but some spirited plays from Sinan Guler and Zoran Erceg made all the difference. Going into the fourth quarter, the Turkish side led by two points and they never looked back from this point.
It was an exciting Euroleague debut for Justin Carter who grabbed 7 points and 7 rebounds. Erceg and Guler both offered 14 points while Carlos Arroyo provided 12 points and 5 assists for the winners, while Kerem Gonlum provided 10 points. James Anderson was the top man for Zalgiris, providing 15 points while Robertas Javtokas provided 12 points and Arturas Gudaitis provided 11 points.
There was a strange atmosphere in the game due to the fact that the stands were empty due to sanctions that had been imposed on Galatasaray.
Galatasaray travel to Real Madrid in Round 2 of the Top 16 while Zalgiris welcomes Alba Berlin to Lithuania for their next game.
It may have been a short and sweet introduction to the Top 16, while also saying goodbye to 2014, but you can guarantee that this stage is going to get quite exciting quite quickly.
- Q1: 20-22
- Q2: 35-41
- Q3: 57-55
- Q4: 78-69