The Euroleague didn’t want to wait until 2016 to get the Top 16 started which means that European basketball fans were able to see out the year in fine style. Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday night, all of the teams in the Top 16 got their campaign underway and the home teams certainly got the better of it! Perhaps the away teams struggled to deal with their festive celebrations and their travel plans!
There was one game on Tuesday night in Group E with the remaining three games played out on Wednesday the 30th of December.
Unicaja Malaga 70 – Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 62
This was a game where the visitors started brightly and at the halfway mark; the Turkish team were leading 29-32, not a huge lead but enough to provide the away side with confidence for the second half. However, Edwin Jackson had a stunning end to the game, grabbing 13 points in the fourth quarter, and 20 points in total for the evening to ensure the Spanish side got off to a winning start in the Top 16. There was a 10-0 scoring run late on that clinched the game for the hosts.
Fenerbahce Istanbul 82 – Panathinaikos Athens 75
When you start the game with a 14-0 scoring run, you are doing everything you can to set yourself up for a good home win but to be fair to the side from Greece, they bounced back strongly and at half-time, the score was just 46-43. This gave the Athens team the impetus to push on and they took a 56-58 lead late on in the third quarter but just as the away team was preparing for a heavy final quarter, the hosts grabbed 6 points in a row and took control of the game again. Ekpe Udoh and Pero Antic were in great form with Udoh shining with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the big win for the Turkish side.
Cedevita Zagreb 75 – Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 89
While this was a tremendous team performance from the away team, you have to highlight the showing of Malcolm Delaney. He managed to grab 31 points, which is a career high and he also grabbed a 41 performance index rating, which is the second highest total in the Euroleague this season so far.
Delaney grabbed 24 points in the first half which helped turn the game around as the home team led 27-22 in the second quarter. Delaney was on hand with 8 assists in the second half and with Chris Singleton serving up 16 points for the away team; it was a night when Lokomotiv were on fire.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 85 – Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 84
The closest game in group E took place in Istanbul and this was a game that went down to the wire with the winning basket being scored with just 3.1 seconds left on the clock. Dario Saric was the hero for the home team but Bryant Dunston served up 21 points for the hosts. Maik Zirbes was in fine form for the away team and he was a key factor in the 44-54 scoreline at the break. Late in the third quarter the away team were 55-70 ahead and it was looking good but this was the call for Dunston, Saric and Jayson Granger to leave their mark on the game.
There were two games on Tuesday in Group F and two games on the Wednesday night and both nights served up a great deal of drama and excitement.
Khimki Moscow Region 91 – CSKA Moscow 89
An all Moscow clash turned out to be the game of the week in the Euroleague with the game being decided with 1.1 seconds left to play. Alexey Shved was the winner for the home team and overall he grabbed 28 points, with 22 of these points coming in the second half. With Tyrese Rice also grabbing 22 points for the winners, it was the hosts who grabbed the New Year bragging rights in Moscow.
Olympiacos Piraeus 74 – FC Barcelona Lassa 62
It seems as though Vassilis Spanoulis is going to leave more of a mark on the Top 16 than he did on the regular season. It was far from vintage play in the regular season but with 11 points and 9 assists, Vassilis was a key player for the Greek side in defeating the Catalan giants. A 16-2 scoring run placed the hosts ahead at half-time by 39-26 and this lead was enhanced with a 10-0 scoring run in the third quarter.
Zalgiris Kaunas 68 – Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz 89
The away team conjured up a 0-14 scoring in the first quarter to take control of the game and at one point in the second half they were 27 points in the lead. The hosts rallied well to bring the game back to 9 points but just as home fans were daring to dream about a major comeback, the Spanish side bounced back with a 0-10 scoring run. There were five Laboral players in double figures with Darius Adams grabbing 16 points and Mike James providing 15 points.
Real Madrid 82 – Brose Baskets Bamberg 79
Real Madrid will be keen to show that their regular season form was an aberration and they made a fine start with a solid win over Brose Baskets. The German team may have been in the lead for the opening 32 minutes of the game, including a 14 points lead in the second quarter and a 10 point 30-40 lead at half-time but they couldn’t hold on when the Spanish side started to exert some pressure on them.
Sergio Rodriguez grabbed 22 points in the second half and he grabbed a three point shot with 20.7 seconds left of the game to push the home side on. Rodriguez also managed to serve up 8 assists in a thrilling game in the Spanish capital.