The most exciting club competition in Basketball is back as the 2015/2016 Euroleague season opened for business in typical all-guns blazing fashion. There were six contest through Thursday, while another six games happening to close round one on Friday. As we have come to expect from Europe’s elite competition, the Basketball was hot and as always the games threw giant clubs against one another from the get go.
Crvena Zvezda Belgrade will use last season’s unlikely run as fuel for the 2015/2016 Euroleague season and the now experienced club put away Strasbourg 81-59 at home to open the campaign. Strasbourg won the first quarter 19-20, but from there Crvena Zvezda blitzed their opponents and the hosts cruised through the rest of the game, winning the second period 24-12 to set up a stroll in the second half. Maik Zirbes led the winners with 18 points, while he also added 7 rebounds.
Former champions Olympiacos Piraeus got straight on course for another title tilt with an opening 76-61 workout against Cedevita Zagreb in Greece. The hosts looked comfortable for large spells and won every split, taking the first half 38-35 before pulling away in the third period with a 19-13 run and then doubling down on the advantage with another 19-13 charge in the fourth act. Georgios Printezis led the winners with 20 points and 8 rebounds, while Matt Lojeski had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Turkish champ Pinar Karisyaka Izmir was making its debut in the Euroleague and the club got off to a start that will live long in the memory. Izmir put together an unlikely 71-62 home win over stalwarts and title contenders FC Barcelona to get the party started in Karisyaka. Barcelona is often a slow warmer so will be fine, but this is a fantastic confidence boost for Pinar Izmir. The hosts really impressed in the second half as they really put the Spanish visitors to bed in clinical fashion.
A clash between two clubs that have been multiple European champions should have been a clash of titans for the ages. However, the game between CSKA Moscow and Maccabi Tel Aviv was not the classic many hoped for as CSKA simply demolished their illustrious Israeli guests. The final score of 100-69 sends an early message to other European giants that says CSKA Moscow means business during the 2015/2016 Euroleague season. Nando De Colo led five CSKA players in double digits with 17 points.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul picked up an historic first Euroleague win by defeating Italian team Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 83-74 after overtime. The Turkish team had home court advantage and were stunning off the glass, grabbing a whopping 57 rebounds during the game. The hosts were trailing 56-50 through thirty minutes, but rallied in the fourth to tie the game at 66 apiece before edging the overtime period 17-8 to spark celebrations on the hardwood.
Unicaja Malaga opened its continental campaign with a narrow 76-71 win over Brose Baskets Bamberg on the Spanish south coast. The teams had traded for much of the first half, but Malaga emerged with a 36-34 lead at the long break. The third quarter proved to be the difference as the hosts plundered 27 points to Bamberg’s 15, and while the Germans rallied in the fourth act, it was not enough to stop Unicaja Malaga taking the win.