The strategy in Euroleague Week 3 was simple, just be the home team and you’d be fine. Eight games, eight home club victories. It took a jumper from the corner behind the arc with less than 2.6 seconds to play for Real Madrid to earn the final win for the home teams over Zalgiris Kaunas, but remarkably it was a clean sweep this week for the locals.
In the key game of the week, Montepaschi Siena improved their Top 16 record to 3-0 with a win over previously unbeaten BC Khimki Moscow Region, 82:76.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul – Alba Berlin, 71:62
Anadolu Efes used a big second quarter to pick up their second Top 16 victory with a 71:62 win over Alba Berlin, who drops to 0-3 with the loss.
Alba opened the contest with a slim lead after the first quarter, 16:19, but the hosts used a 19:11 second quarter to counter and build a 35:30 advantage at the break.
The clubs traded scoring runs in the third, starting with a 7:0 run for the hosts to build a six-point lead, 44:38, then Alba ran off six, countered by eight more from Anadolu. When it was all tallied and the buzzer sounded to end the third 10, the hosts had themselves a nice eight-point cushion heading into the last quarter, 52:44.
Sasha Vujacic drained a triple to push the Anadolu lead to 11, 58:47, with six and change left on the clock. Alba then ran off six unanswered to cut the margin to four with just over three minutes to play. Efes broke their scoring drought (three minutes worth) with a Dusko Savanovic three-pointer to extend the hosts’ lead back to seven, 61:54.
Dashaun Wood sliced the cords with back-to-back triples for Alba sandwiched around a Savanovic drive for a deuce, to cut the spread to five and a Deon Thompson rebound and follow that was whistled good with a goal-tending call brought the visitors to within three, 65:62, with 58 seconds to play. Alba was unable to connect again, but Efes was able to added six more to build a cushion for tie-breaker purposes.
Jordan Farmer and Savanovic dropped in 15 each for Efes, and Lucas contributed eight points, four rebounds and six assists.
Thompson led Alba Berlin with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jekel Foster dropped in 11 and Yassin Idbihi added 10 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Real Madrid – Zalgiris Kaunas, 75:74
Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas gave the crowd estimated at just over 9,000 40 minutes of basketball action and then some as the hosts dropped in a prayer with 2.6 seconds to play. They also had to hold off a solid effort to cover the point deficit before the final buzzer, and in doing so improved their season record to 3-0, while Zalgiris dropped to 1-2.
The visitors came out hard and ran off the first seven points on their way to taking the first quarter 18:23. An early four-point play for RM erased the gap, and for the better part of the second quarter the teams exchanged baskets and the lead, ending with a Nikola Mirotic circus shot for Madrid ticks before the buzzer to knot the score at 40 heading into the intermission.
It was a quarter full of extremes when they came back from their break, either a lay-up/dunk or a three-pointer was about all either squad could tally and the scoring was light with the home club out-dualing Zalgiris, 14:12 in the frame, including a three minute scoring drought for both teams. They prepared to battle in the final 10 with Madrid up 54:52.
The largest advantage either team could muster in the final frame was the four-point lead Madrid had with three minutes left, 67:63. Seconds later Oliver Lafayette launched a long-ball to cut the gap to one, 67:66. With 1:27 to play and the score even at 70, Felipe Reyes sealed his man with a textbook box out, grabbed an errant triple from Sergio Llull and dropped it in, getting fouled in the process for the possible three-point play. He missed the single, but gave the hosts a 72:70 lead. With 41 seconds to play Rudy Fernandez was whistled for a questionable unsportsmanlike foul after Ksistof Lavrinovic knocked the ball out of Sergio Rodriguez’s hand and was heading down the court. Lavrinovic picked up both singles to tie the contest at 72, but the unsportsmanlike call also gave Zalgiris the ball back after the free throws. A five-second call on the in-bounds gave Madrid the ball back. They drew up a play during a time out and Rodriguez ended up with a wide-open three at the top of the key, but came up short. Lafayette pulled down the defensive rebound with 18 seconds to play and brought the ball up the court to set up for a one final shot. He waved his floor mates away to set up an isolation play, but as he started his drive, Rodriguez reached around and fouled him to put him on the line with 8.7 seconds to play to give Madrid time for a play of their own should Lafayette connect with either a deuce or free throws. He sank both singles and RM used another time out to advance the ball to the front court and set up a play. Fernandez passed the ball in, ran and got it back, drove the right side of the lane and when he hit a double team kicked the rock to Rodriguez behind the arc on the baseline, who cooly tossed up a triple that sliced through the cords to give the Whites a one-point lead with 2.5 seconds to play. Zalgiris got an open three when Marko Popovic was found alone in the corner with a high cross-court in-bounds pass, but his shot hit the iron in the back of the rim and the Paulius Jankunas put back attempt came up short.
Mirotic’s 17 points led the hosts, and Llull contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Popovic dropped in 21 for Zalgiris, and Lafayette added 13.
Montepaschi Siena – BC Khimki MR, 82:76
Coming into Week 3 Montepaschi Siena and BC Khimki were both 2-0 and sitting at the top of Group F with Caja Laboral. With this big home win over Khimki, Siena is now tied with Caja at 3-0, while Khimki drops to 2-1 on the young season.
Khimki jumped out to a 2:16 advantage after five minutes of play in the first quarter. Siena finally found the bottom of the net and ran off seven unanswered to cut the lead to 12:18. They clubs traded buckets to run out the rest of the quarter with the visitors up seven, 20:27 at the end of the frame.
Siena used the long-ball to erase the deficit, hitting two in a row with a defensive stop in the middle to get to within three, 29:32. It took a few minutes, but Siena was able to knot the score at 36, but Khimki was able to put some distance between them before the break, heading into the dressing rooms up 39:41.
Deep in the third Khimki had fought for a five-point margin, but a foul on Siena’s Tomas Ress that turned into a technical, gave Siena four free throws, which they connected on all four, and the ball back, which resulted in a Ress basket to complete a six-point possession and give Montepaschi a one-point lead right before the end of the quarter. Kelvin Rivers split a pair of singles to draw Khimki even with their hosts at 60.
The visitors struck early, jumped out to a 60:65 advantage, but Siena countered with a 7:0 run of their own to regain the upper hand at 67:65. Bobby Brown put the home club up 77:74 with 55 seconds to play with a drive and a lay-up. After Brown’s deuce, the only points either team could put on the board where from singles, with Ress contributing four of his own to ice the contest and keep Siena at the top of group.
Brown led the hosts with 20 points, while Ress contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Rivers dropped in 13 for Khimki and Planinic added 10 points and seven assists.
FC Barcelona Regal – Olympiacos Piraeus, 76:68
Defending champions Olympiacos Piraeus took to the road to take on Barcelona Regal in their Week 3 contest. Both clubs entered the game with 1-1 records, but with the Regal 76:68 win, they push the champs down to 1-2, while moving into second place with a 2-1 record.
The guests took the early lead, but Regal countered to tie things up and then had an 8:2 run to build a gab. By the end of the quarter Regal was up 18:13 and a 23:19 second quarter gave Barca a 41:32 lead at the half.
Olympiacos was able to whittle the margin to four deep into the third frame, but the hosts add four before the buzzer to keep an eight-point lead, 60:52
Barcelona was able to push the lead to 11 early in the final 10, but Olympiacos was never able to trim it to closer than six to give Barca a much-needed win.
Ante Tomic paced the winners with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Pete Mickeal added 12 points.
Georgios Printezis dropped in 14 points for Olympiacos in the loss.
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German and Turkish teams deserved the right to play, but are not Top16 level clubs.