Christmas may have gone, but the gift of Basketball keeps on giving with two Euroleague games taking place that kept the festivities going. With the competition kicking into full gear again in the New Year, the two clashes on Tuesday were the perfect Top 16 opener as Galatasaray and Panathinaikos both started their second phase campaigns in style.
Both clubs were at home and both looked good, Panathinaikos downing current champs Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-76 and Galatasaray taking down Zalgiris Kaunas 78-69. The victories made the clubs the early pace setter in Group E, but there is of course plenty to play for through the next two months of competition to decide the Play-Off berths.
Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul vs. Zalgiris Kaunas, 78-69
Turkish club Galatasaray tipped its Euroleague Top 16 season off with style by downing Lithuanian stalwarts Zalgiris at home. A strong opening quarter for both teams actually fell in favour of the Kaunas contingent as the away team paced to a 20-22 lead through ten minutes. In the second frame the visitors extended their advantage with a 15-19 run that made it 35-41 at the midway split. Galatasaray woke up with a strong third act, downing 22 points and keeping Zalgiris at 14 to make it 57-55 in favour of the Turks. The hosts had turned it around and used the momentum to ease through the final period with a 21-14 flurry to win the game.
Sinan Guler and Zoran Erceg topped the winning team with 14 points apiece, while Carlos Arroyo tabbed 12 points and 5 assists.
James Anderson topped the scoring charts with 15 points for Zalgiris, followed by Robertas Javtokas with 12 points and Arturas Gudaitis with 10.
Panathinaikos Athens vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv, 83-76
Greek giant Panathinaikos ensured it will enter the 2015 Euroleague calendar with confidence after taking out current champs Maccabi Tel Aviv at home. The Israeli’s have been in mixed form and finally lost here despite a dogged effort. The visitors actually held the lead at the first buzzer interval as Maccabi carved a 15-19 Q1 advantage. A big scoring second followed as both teams locked 24-24 through the ten minutes, ensuring Tel Aviv maintained a 39-43 lead through the long break. The consistent buckets continued in the third stanza, but once again the teams could not be separated, tying 21 apiece to make it 60-64 on the scoreboard after 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter Panathinaikos rallied and the hosts used a big game winning 23-13 run to seal the victory, leaving Maccabi to ponder a late collapse.
Estaban Batista topped The Greens with 16 points and 6 boards, while A.J. Slaughter and James Gist hit 15 points each. Also registering double figures was DeMarcus Nelson with 11 points.
Alex Tyus picked up the only double-double of the Euroleague evening with 14 points and 10 boards for Tel Aviv. Nate Linhart and Brian Randle were the top scorers for the champs though with 18 points each.