Euroleague: Big guns flex their muscles

After over a week away the Euroleague is back and on Thursday evening the action in the Top 16 continued as if the competition had never been away.

There were six games scheduled for the evening as the top teams continued to put their marks on Groups E and F. Fenerbahce got back to winning ways with a comfortable home win against Laboral Kutxa in Group E, while Unicaja Malaga put a disappointing Cop del Rey behind the club with a solid home win over Panathinaikos. Reigning champs Olympiacos were also in action in the group and Greek team collected a home win over Efes.

In Group F Real Madrid downed a spirited Lokomotiv team on the road, while Zalgiris cruised past Partizan NIS. Rounding out the night´s action, Maccabi Electra scraped past Bayern Munich at home.

Euroleague

Group E

Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul vs. Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, 98-64

Despite a difficult Top 16 so far, Turkish giant Fenerbahce kept its hopes of qualification to the next round alive by crushing Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Vitoria. Fener has struggled for much of this phase of the competition but on the evidence of this victory the team has regained its form and overcome some injuries in the roster. This crushing 34-point win sees the Turkish club move to 7th in Group E with a 2-4 record, while Laboral slips to last place at 1-5.

Fenerbahce was in record breaking mood as the 98 point haul was a club record for the Euroleague Top 16. The team also poured in 59 points during the first half, also a club record that is the second most in Top 16 history.

The opening quarter was close fought as the teams traded baskets, although the hosts managed to maintain a slender advantage throughout the period to lead 30-24 after 10 minutes. In the second Fenerbahce started to put plays together and restricted Laboral in the defensive arc to carve open a substantial lead, with the score at 59-38 at halftime. The 21 point advantage at the midway stage had all but secured the win for the home team, but the Fener players continued to play in top gear to secure a commanding 82-55 lead after 30 minutes of play. The fourth quarter proved a stroll as Fenerbahce had done the damage to win the game and Laboral could not stop a heavy defeat.

Bojan Bogdanovic was in good touch for Fener with 17 points and 5 assists, while Nemanja Bjelica notched 14 points and 9 rebounds. Bo McCalebb and Luka Zoric each grabbed 14 points in victory.

Tibor Pleiss hit 14 points for Laboral and Walter Hodge claimed 13 along with 5 assists.

Unicaja Malaga vs. Panathinaikos Athens, 87-71

Unicaja bounced back after falling out of the Copa del Rey in the eighth round on its home court last weekend to see off Panathinaikos. Nik Caner-Medley continued his recent good form with a game high 21 points for Malaga as the Spanish team leapfrogged Panathinaikos into 4th in Group E with a 3-3 record. The Greek team falls to fifth but has an equal record with Malaga.

Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Anadolu Efes, 78-60

Olympiacos took second place in the group with a win over Anadolu Efes in Greece. It was the champions´ third consecutive win in the Top 16 and placed the club in a good position for qualification to the next round of the Euroleague. Despite the loss, Efes remains in the hunt in sixth place and a 2-4 record.

Group F

Lokomotiv Kuban vs. Real Madrid, 74-78

Real Madrid came off an historic Copa del Rey title to take top spot (shared) in Group F after a tough contest with Lokomotiv in Russia. The Spanish giant led for all but the first quarter but could not pull away from a dogged Kuban team that has surprised many in the Euroleague this season. Madrid´s win takes the club to first in the group with a 5-1 record while Lokomotiv stays in fourth place at 3-3.

Lokomotiv took early control of the game at 11-3 and went on to record a 13-0 run during the first. However, Los Blancos recovered and cut the lead to 23-18 at the end of the first. During the second the tables turned as Madrid started hitting the paint and picking up consistent two pointers. By time the halftime buzzer sounded around the Basket Hall the score was 36-40 in favour of the visitors. Madrid extended to nine points in the third and although Lokomotiv cut the advantage the board read 54-58 through three quarters. The hosts would not go away and Real struggled to put the game to bed, but during the fourth the Spanish giant held on to take a tough road win.

Sergio Rodriguez was the go to guy for Madrid and he notched up 16 points in the win. Sergio Llull added 15 points and 5 assists and Nikola Mirotic took 12 points and 9 rebounds in the winning effort.

Derrick Brown had a game high 21 points to lead Lokomotiv, with Mantas Kalnietis nailing 15 and laying on 7 rebounds. Richard Hendrix offered a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Other games on the night

Zalgiris Kaunas vs. Partizan NIS, 89-77

Maccabi Electra vs. FC Bayern Munich, 66-64

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