Big Euroleague wins for UNICS Kazan and Baskonia
The final night of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action in 2021 saw UNICS Kazan and Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz claim big wins at home, while Zenit St Petersburg rallied for an overtime win on the road. UNICS scored the first 17 points of the game and held on late to beat reigning champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Baskonia flexed its muscle by topping league-leading FC Barcelona. Zenit trailed by as many as nine before forcing overtime and beating Crvena Zvezda Belgrade. On Wednesday night, AS Monaco put an end to its losing streak by spanking Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv.
UNICS Kazan 75-67 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
UNICS Kazan rebounded from a tough loss in the best way possible, downing defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul 75-67 at home in Round 18 on Thursday. UNICS improved to 11-7 in the standings while Efes dropped 9-9. John Brown led the winners with 20 points and five steals. Andrey Vorontsevich added 12 points for UNICS. Shane Larkin led Efes with 17 points. Bryant Dunston added 15, while Chris Singleton had 11 for the guests. Vorontsevich, John Brown, and Mario Hezonja fueled an opening 17-0 run that allowed UNICS to keep a 24-17 lead after 10 minutes. Larkin and Dunston pushed Efes to get as close as 35-34, but Vorontsevich and John Brown helped the hosts restore a 42-38 edge at halftime. Isaiah Canaan took over after the break, helping his team boost its margin to 57-49 at the end of the third quarter. Nothing changed after that, as UNICS kept a safe margin until the final buzzer.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 76-80 Zenit St Petersburg
Billy Baron and Jordan Loyd came up big against their former team on Thursday to lead Zenit St Petersburg to a 76-80 overtime win over Crvena Zvezda Belgrade at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Baron scored 25 points and dished six assists to lead the way, and Loyd scored all of his 8 points in the last minute of regulation and overtime to carry Zvezda to its fourth straight win and a 12-6 record. Jordan Mickey scored 13, Mateusz Ponitka corralled 11 rebounds, and Alex Poythress grabbed ten boards for the winners. Nate Wolters paced Zvezda with 21 points, six assists, and four steals, Austin Hollins contributed 15 points, Nikola Kalinic scored 13, and Luka Mitrovic 11. The loss dropped Zvezda to 7-11 this season.
Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 94-75 FC Barcelona
Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz ended 2021 in the best way possible as it emphatically defeated FC Barcelona 94-75 to snap the league-leader’s nine-game winning streak. Baskonia put together the first run with 16 straight points to open a 10-point advantage in the second quarter. The margin was down to 4 in the third, but Baskonia went on a 17-6 run and the advantage grew as high as 25 points. Rokas Giedraitis led the way with 20 points for Baskonia, which won back-to-back games for the first time since winning Rounds 3-5 early this season, and improved its record to 7-11. Wade Baldwin IV added 18 points, Simone Fontecchio scored 14 points, Steven Enoch and Matt Costello both chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jayson Granger tallied 10 points. Assistant coach David Gil led Baskoniasince head coach Neven Spahija was not available due to COVID-19 protocols. Barcelona, which had beaten Baskonia by 26 points at home in Round 9, dropped to 15-3 despite Nikola Mirotic scoring 19 points. Sertac Sanli added 13 points, Nicolas Laprovittola scored 12 and Rokas Jokubaitis 11 points in the loss.
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