EuroLeague season starts and the fans are back

The 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season started with fans in the arenas, and the home teams responded by going 4-0 on the first night of the new season. In Tel Aviv, where Menorah Mivtachim Arena was open at full capacity, and every ticket was sold, the passionate energy of the Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv fans helped them edge FC Bayern Munich 69-68. The Spanish capital saw Real Madrid roll over defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul. In a clash of Final Four teams from last season, AX Armani Exchange Milan overpowered CSKA Moscow. And history was made when AS Monaco trounced Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in the former’s EuroLeague debut. Action resumes Friday, with the five remaining Round 1 games playing out in five countries across the continent.

Euroleague 2021-22 season starts

AS Monaco 75-63 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens

AS Monaco enjoyed a sweet EuroLeague debut by beating visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 75-63 in the season-opening game at Salle Gaston Medecin on Thursday evening. The hosts dominated from the beginning, building a 22-15 advantage in the first quarter and never looking back. In the second half, the margin increased little by little to a maximum of 22 points midway through the last quarter, which allowed Monaco to enjoy an early celebration with its fans despite a late 0-10 late run by the Greens. Danilo Andjusic had a career-high 17 points in just 14 minutes to lead five Monaco scorers in double digits. Mike James scored 11 points, and Paris Lee, Donatas Motiejunas, and Donta Hall had ten apiece. Ioannis Papapetrou set the tone for Panathinaikos with 16 points and six rebounds, followed by Daryl Macon Jr. with 13 points in the losing effort.

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 69-68 FC Bayern Munich

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv opened its 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season with a thrilling 69-68 victory over FC Bayern Munich as Scottie Wilbekin shined in front of a sold-out home crowd with a career-best performance. The Maccabi star matched his career-high of 28 points in carrying his team back from a 9-point deficit in the final 6 minutes. Maccabi needed to shut down Bayern after playing a whirlwind first 15 minutes as the team built a 17-point lead to the pleasure of 11,192 fans at the Menora Mivtachim Arena. John DiBartolomeo added 8 points for the winners. DeShaun Thomas paced Bayern with 15 points, Corey Walden had 14, Othello Hunter 11, and Augustine Rubit chipped in 10 in the loss.

AX Armani Exchange Milan 84-74 CSKA Moscow

AX Armani Exchange Milan started the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season strong at home with a determined 84-74 victory over CSKA Moscow. The visitors raced into a double-digit lead, 19-29, in the first quarter, but Milan battled back with a 15-2 run in the second and kept on improving defensively to claim what became a relatively comfortable victory. Shavon Shields led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, Sergio Rodriguez scored 17, and Nicolo Melli impressed on his re-debut with 15 points and six rebounds. Kyle Hines (13) and new signing Devon Hall (11) also scored in double-digits for the winning team. Iffe Lundberg led CSKA’s resistance with 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, supported by Will Clyburn with 12 points and Nikita Kurbanov with 10.

Real Madrid 82-69 Anadolu Efes Istanbul

Real Madrid had a solid start for the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season by downing defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul 82-69 in Round 1 in the Spanish capital in front of 4,000 Real fans at the WiZink Center on Thursday. Guerschon Yabusele and Thomas Heurtel led the winners with 15 points apiece. Edy Tavares added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Real. Shane Larkin scored 21 for Efes, and EuroLeague newcomer Filip Petrusev added 17 in defeat. Adam Hanga, Heurtel, and Jeffery Taylor led Real to a 32-15 lead after 10 minutes. A three-pointer by Alberto Abalde made it a 21-point game soon after that. Larkin and Bryant Dunston brought Efes within 50-35 at halftime, but little changed after the break as Real boosted its margin to 68-48 at the end of the third quarter and never looked back.

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