Euroleague Top 16: giants hit back

Euroleague Top 16After a two week break, the Euroleague Top 16 resumed on Thursday with six contests among the premier clubs on the continent.

The shock of the day arguably came in Greece where Fenerbahce lost its undefeated Top 16 record to Panathinaikos, although the Greek team is of course capable of winning the competition itself. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar also claimed a huge win over Cedevita Zagreb, while Darussafaka stayed alive with a second consecutive win.

In Group F, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria stayed top with a last quarter charge that took out Zalgiris Kaunas in Spain, while Real Madrid exacted revenge on Brose Baskets Bamberg in Germany. A Moscow derby was the pick of Group F games, and it was won by a strong attacking display from CSKA, taking out Khimki on the way to victory.

Group E

Panathinaikos Athens vs. Fenerbahce Istanbul, 76-71
Panathinaikos did its chances of qualification a world of good, while also dealing Fenerbahce its first Euroleague Top 16 loss of the season. The Turkish visitors are still cruising at the top of Group E (7-1), but don’t look quite as invincible now, leaving no club undefeated. Panathinaikos moved to 5-3 in third place and The Greens are on track for the quarter-finals. After locking through the first half (36-36), the game stayed tight in the second, but the hosts steadied ahead and held on late to claim the win.

Elliot Williams led the win with 14 points, while Miroslav raduljica added 13 points for Panathinaikos.

Ekpe Udoh continued to shine for Fenerbahce, taking 19 points and 7 rebounds here. Bobby Dixon hit 16 points in the loss.

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Cedevita Zagreb, 87-63
Lokomotiv consolidated second place for another week at 6-2 with a cruising home win over Cedevita Zagreb in Krasnodar. The visiting champions of Croatia slipped to the bottom of the group, 2-6, in defeat. The Russian hosts were in cruise control from the start with a 29-12 first quarter, and while Zagreb fought back to 44-33 at halftime, Lokomotiv was in the mood. The home team completed a steady workout on the hardwood with a 26-13 third act, before settling it with a 17-17 final frame.

Anthony Randolph scored a game high 28 points in the win, and made it a double-double with 13 rebounds, while also adding 5 assists. Ryan Broekhoff scored 14 in victory, while Malcolm Delaney was quiet at the bucket, but still dished 10 scoring passes.

Miro Bilan was the sole double digit scorer with 11 for Cedevita.

Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul vs. Unicaja Malaga, 78-55
After going winless for six games in the Euroleague Top 16, Darussafaka has just gone and won two on the bounce and is now in with a shot of qualifying. The Turkish team downed sorry Unicaja Malaga to leave both teams on 2-6 records. The hosts led throughout in what was a comfortable home win, taking the first half 37-28 and extending throughout the second to control the outcome.

Luke Harangody topped the Turks with 21 points and 8 boards, while Mehmet Yagmur added 12 points.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Fran Vasquez both scored 12 points for Malaga.

Group F

CSKA Moscow vs. Khimki Moscow Region, 108-98
A pulsating Moscow derby saw CSKA take out ever-dangerous Khimki with an impressive display of three points shooting, draining 16 from downtown to break a century of points. The win pushed CSKA to 6-2 on the back of four consecutive wins, while Khimki’s form as dropped off and the club now sits in third (4-4) after topping the Group F standings two rounds ago. With consistent scoring CSKA has won every period through thirty minutes and led 77-66 heading to the fourth act. In the decider, both teams peppered the bucket, but CSKA held firm during a 31-32 final stanza.

Milos Teodosic scored 26 points for the winners, while Nando De Colo added 19 points, and Nikita Kurbaranov scored 18 points.

Tyrese Rice doubled up in the losing effort, pacing Khimki with 16 points and 12 assists, while Alexey Shved also scored 16 points and Petteri Koponen added 15 points.

Brose Baskets Bamberg vs. Real Madrid, 86-90
After taking out current champs, Real Madrid, in the Spanish capital earlier in the Top 16 campaign, Brose Baskets may have been confident at home. However, Los Blancos was able to exact its revenge with a victory that sent Madrid to third in Group F with a 5-3 record. Consistent scoring through the first three frames meant Real Madrid led 65-72 through thirty minutes and the visitors held strong in the fourth to settle proceedings.

Felipe Reyes scored 18 points in the win, while Sergio Rodriguez managed to hand out 10 assists.

Darius Miller led the German hosts with a game high 20 points, followed by Bradley Wanamaker with 16 points.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria vs. Zalgiris Kaunas, 71-65
Laboral Kutxa is arguably a surprise sight at the top of Group F, but the form of the team is drawing the crowds as 10,000 showed up to see the hosts take out eliminated Zalgiris Kaunas. The Lithuanian visitors were still alive and leading 45-53 through thirty minutes, but Laboral Kutxa turned the screw in the fourth quarter with a 26-12 run that settled the game.

Darius Adams scored 17 points, while Ioannis Bourousis doubled up yet again with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

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