The two-round week for December continued on Thursday with the first four games of Round 16. All four Thursday winners completed perfect weeks. The two Istanbul teams won easily, while the two Spanish teams had to sweat it out. Fenerbahce blasted Baskonia and Efes rode Shane Larkin’s hot had to victory in Tel Aviv. Barcelona and Real Madrid also succeeded on the road after their respective opponents, Panathinaikos and Milan, rallied late and pushed them to the limit. At least one more team will go 2-0 this week; Monaco hosts Zenit on Friday in a matchup of Round 15 winners. The other Round 15 winners to play on Friday will be UNICS against Zalgiris and Olympiacos against ASVEL.
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 75-53 Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul led from tip to buzzer to record its fourth consecutive victory, 75-53, over Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Thursday at Ulker Sports and Event Hall. Nando De Colo led the way with 17 points, seven assists, and a career-high six steals for the hosts, who improved to 7-9 on the season. Achille Polonara added 15 points against his former club, and Jan Vesely scored 13. Steven Enoch produced 14 points and eight rebounds for Baskonia, which lost in Istanbul for the second time in the week and saw its record fall to 5-11.
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 78-92 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Anadolu Efes Istanbul made it a clean sweep of the double-round week by taking down Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 78-92 on the latter’s home floor on Thursday. The victory broke their part of a four-way tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the standings, with Efes rising to an 8-8 record and Maccabi dropping to 7-9 with its sixth consecutive defeat. Shane Larkin shined for Efes with 26 points on 6-for-7 three-point shooting. Tibor Pleiss had 15 points, while three other Efes players scored ten each: Elijah Bryant, Krunoslav Simon, and Adrien Moerman. For Maccabi, Ante Zizic poured in 23 points while James Nunnally had 14, Keenan Evans 12, and Scottie Wilbekin 10. Maccabi led 20-29 in a first half marked by several lead changes, but once Larkin got going after halftime, the hosts could not counterpunch enough to threaten Efes.
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 82-85 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona fought back from a poor second quarter and narrowly fended off Panathinaikos OPAP Athens with an 82-85 road victory to extend its winning streak to eight games. Nikola Mirotic paced Barcelona with 20 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Nicolas Laprovittola tallied 18 points, Brandon Davies chipped in 12 points, and Rokas Jokubaitis tallied 9 points and six assists. Barcelona started better in leading 10-18, but Panathinaikos found its form and opened a 13-point lead in the second quarter. Barcelona used its tough defense in the third quarter and took charge with a 2-14 run. The lead grew to 9 points with just more than a minute left, but Barcelona made its fans sweat out the win for a 14-2 record. Panathinaikos has now lost eight of its last ten games for a 4-12 record. Nemanja Nedovic came off the Panathinaikos bench and poured in 18 points, while Ioannis Papapetrou scored 16 points, Howard Sant-Roos 13, and Georgios Papagiannis tallied 11 points and eight rebounds.
AX Armani Exchange Milan 73-75 Real Madrid
Real Madrid nearly squandered an 11-point lead in the final 2 minutes, but in the end, managed to pull out a thrilling 73-75 road win over AX Armani Exchange Milan on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Real improved to 13-3 to stay in second place in the standings, while Milan dropped to 10-6 for the season. Real took control of the game in the second quarter behind Guerschon Yabusele and kept the margin safe throughout the second half. Behind Rudy Fernandez and Fabien Causeur, the visitors led 62-73. They had possession with just over 2 minutes to go, but Shavon Shields and Luigi Datome rallied the hosts, who even had a three-pointer to win it, but Malcolm Delaney’s corner triple at the buzzer rimmed out. Causeur finished with 17 points to lead Real. Yabusele scored 15, Sergio Llull had 12 points and Fernandez 10 in victory. Shields had a game-high 18 points for Milan, and Sergio Rodriguez scored 10 in a losing effort.