Round 1 of the 2015/2016 Euroleague closed on Friday with the last six contests in Europe’s premier club competition. After shocks, mega-club clashes, and huge wins on Thursday, Friday had a lot to live up to, but managed to do it with some riveting hoops.
Champions Real Madrid were downed by Eurocup title holder Khimki Moscow Region, while Fenerbahce had too much for Bayern Munich in Group A. In the race for Group B, Anadolu Efes Istanbul had a good workout on the way to a win over Limoges, while Milan scraped by Laboral Kutxa Vitoria in the other contest. Group C also had two games, Lokomotiv Kuban seeing off Panathinaikos in Russia and Zalgiris overcoming Stelmet Zielona Gora on the road.
Fenerbahce Istanbul vs. FC Bayern Munich, 74-67
Turkish heavyweight Fenerbahce opened its season with a win over Bayern Munich in front of a typically raucous Istanbul crowd. The hosts needed that support as they trailed by 15 points in the third quarter after Bayern had built on its 30-39 halftime lead. By the third act had closed, Fener had started to rally and reduced the deficit to 52-59 through thirty minutes. The hosts had the momentum and swept to victory with a 22-8 run in the fourth frame. New look Fenerbahce looked to 15 points from Luigi Datome and a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds from Vesely.
Khimki Moscow Region vs. Real Madrid, 84-70
Real Madrid’s awful start to the season continued on Friday as the Euroleague champions fell on the road to the Eurocup winners from Khimki. After losing its opening Spanish league game, Madrid is winless this season and the manner in which Khimki won will set off alarm bells… when does this more than a sluggish start and more of a worrying trend? As for Russian giant Khimki, the roster is strong and complete, while this game showed that they are contenders in the top European competition this year.
Limoges CSP vs. Anadolu Efes Istanbul, 77-89
Efes of Istanbul, Turkey’s most successful club, got its campaign off to a confident start with a comfortable road win over Limoges in France. The visitors got off to a great start and used a 17-30 run in the first to take control of the game. Limoges narrowed the deficit in the second to make it 37-47 at halftime, but Anadolu Efes played professionally in the second half to sew up the game. Jon Diebler scored 21 points in the winning effort, while Thomas Huertal chipped in with a double-double of 10 points and 15 assists.
Emporio Armani Milan vs. Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, 78-76
Milan is warming into its position as a Euroleague regular and the Italians defeated Laboral Kutxa Vitoria of Spain at home on Friday. While the final score was tight, the teams actually took turns in dominating the hardwood. Vitoria took the lead through 10 minutes with a 17-23 winning period, while Milan hit back in the second stanza with a 21-13 run that made it 38-36 through the long break. The hosts extended in stylish fashion in the third quarter, using a 23-10 score line to move out at sight through thirty minutes (61-46). The Spanish guests came back again in a barnstorming final term, but could not snatch it at the death.
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Panathinaikos Athens, 81-70
Krasnodar is a dangerous place to visit, as Panathinaikos found out on Friday, the Greek giant the latest to fall to Lokomotiv’s guile and will. Whenever Panathinaikos became a threat, the hosts seemed to just go up a gear, winning the second frame 28-20 to make and the fourth 20-9 to split the Greek’s two winning frame. Chris Singleton led the victorious outfit with 16 points and 9 rebounds, followed by Malcom Delaney with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Stelmet Zielona Gora vs. Zalgiris Kaunas, 62-66
Polish champs Stelmet Zielona Gora fell at home to Lithuanian powerhouse and Euroleague stalwart Zalgiris Kaunas. The hosts had started well and carried a 35-34 lead as the teams headed into the locker room at the midway buzzer. Zalgiris fell further behind in the third as Stelmet moved to 53-46, but the visitors rallied in the fourth quarter and used a 20-9 run to snatch the victory from right under the Polish home team.