Laboral Kutxa Vitoria continued to live up to its billing of surprise Euroleague title contender this season with a cruising win over former champion Panathinaikos. Another former champ also tasted defeat on Wednesday as Barcelona lost on the road to Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in the first game of its best of five series.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Barcelona, 66-61
After some pretty patchy continental form, Barcelona has done well to even make the Euroleague Playoffs this season. From here the games get extra serious and the Spanish giant will need to up its game if it is to overhaul a Lokomotiv team that took game one of the series.
The Russian club is competing for the first time at this level, and made its Playoffs debut with a maiden win, but it was a close contest that went to the wire. Barca worked hard in the first half and was rewarded with a 27-33 advantage at the midway buzzer. The hosts crept back into proceedings in the third frame, but still trailed 50-53 through thirty minutes. Barcelona only managed 8 points in the fourth act, allowing Lokomotiv to seal the outcome with a Ryan Broekhoff dunk in the closing seconds.
Anthony Randolph took a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win, while Malcolm Delaney put together a rounded display of 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 scoring passes.
Justin Doellman and Pau Ribas topped Barcelona with 13 points apiece, followed by Alex Abrines with 10 points.
Laboral Kutxa Vitoria vs. Panathinaikos Athens, 84-68
History would suggest multiple former Euroleague champion Panathinaikos would have too much for Laboral Kutxa Vitoria in the Playoffs. The Greek giant was hot during the Top 16 too and entered Spain in good form. However, Vitoria is hotter in Europe this season and the hosts kept history in the past to take apart Panathinaikos in game one.
A stunning display started to take shape in the second quarter as Vitoria built on an 18-16 Q1 lead with a 21-12 run in the second act that made it 39-28 through the long break. The hosts continued to extend with class in the third stanza with a 25-21 winning frame that made it 64-49 at the final split. In the fourth quarter, Laboral Kutxa stayed cool and held Panathinaikos at arm’s length to win the game.
Darius Adams paced the win with 20 points, while Ioannis Bourousis kept up his Player of the Year efforts with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Mike James secured 11 points in the win and Kim Tillie took 11 boards off the glass.
Miroslav Raduljica grabbed a game high 21 points in the losing effort.