Euroleague: Top 16 Tips off with two upsets

They’re back… After a two-week break from Euroleague competition, the Top 16 tipped off on Thursday with five Week 1 contests being held. Day 1 of Week 1 was dominated by home clubs, with two big upsets in the books. Caja Laboral, finished fourth in the regular season Group C with a 4-6 record, got the best of defending champion Olympiacos, 82:74; and Montepaschi Siena, third in Group B with a 5-5 record outlasted Group B champs Maccabi Tel Aviv, 79:69. Unicaja held off Brose to prevent a third upset on the day and became the third home club to pick up a ‘W’. The Top 16 format is new to 2012-13 with the Top 16 being divided into two eight-team groups and a 14-game Top 16 competition schedule.

Alba Berlin – Real Madrid, 63:77
Real Madrid held off a scrappy Alba Berlin squad and earned a 14-point win that was a lot closer than the score indicates. Madrid got out to a six-point margin after the first 10, then the hosts got two back in the second to head into the intermission only down by four, 34:38. Real got those two back in the third to extend the margin back to six, but throughout Alba kept the pressure on and didn’t let their guests get away. Madrid keep pounding though and finally broke Alba down and won the fourth quarter, 9:17, to earn the big road win. Sergio Llull knocked down 15 points and dished off six assists for Madrid and was helped by Rudy Fernandez, Nikola Mirotic and Jaycee Carroll, all of whom tallied 13 points on the night. Fernandez also grabbed seven rebounds. Albert Miralles scored 14 and Jekel Foster contributed 10 for Alba Berlin.

Besiktas JK Istanbul – BC Khimki Moscow Region, 75:80
Khimki used a big second quarter to outlast their host club, Besiktas JK Istanbul, 75:80. Besiktas got out to the early advantage finishing the first 10 up 20:14. Khimki countered with a 19:31 second quarter, behind a 6:22 run, to close out the half at 39:45. Khimki extended their advantage in the third behind some hot outside shooting by Vitaly Fridzon, who connected on three triples within a minute and 20 seconds. The locals hit a couple of big shots in the paint late to cut the gap a bit, but Khimki held a 10-point lead heading into the final 10, 57:67. Besiktas went on a 7:0 run to open the fourth and cut the margin to three, but Khimki dropped in seven in a row of their own to extend back to 10, 64:74. The closest Besiktas got was with the last basket to close scoring with a 5-point margin, 75:80. Fridzon finished with 20 and a PIR of 23 for Khimki, while Paul Davis added 17 and also had a PIR of 23. Besiktas was led by Patrick Christopher’s 20 and Daniel Ewing’s 15.

Unicaja Malaga – Brose Baskets Bonn, 85:82
Unicaja Malaga picked up a hard-fought win on their home court Thursday when they hosted a gutty Brose Baskets club that took the game down to the last seconds before it was decided. Brose jumped out to a 39:45 advantage at the half and held on to that margin in the third with the two clubs both dropping in 24 in the frame. The final 10 was the difference in this one, with Unicaja outlasting the German club 22:13 to grab their first Top 16 contest, 85:82. Marcus Williams scored 19 and newly acquired Andy Panko contributed 16 for Unicaja. Sharrod Ford hit 16 for Brose, while Anotn Gavel added 15 and ended up with a performance index ratio of 27 in the losing effort. Unicaja outrebounded Brose 46-32 during the contest.

Caja Laboral – Olympiacos Piraeus, 82:74
Caja Laboral scored a huge upset at home against defending Euroleague champions Olympiacos, 82:74. Caja pressured their guests relentlessly throughout the contest and benefitted from some laser-sharp passing to cutters to pick up some easy deuces. Olympiacos held a 40:44 advantage at the half, but Caja took charge in the third, pounding the champs 27:11 in the frame. Olympiacos grabbed four back in the last quarter, but every time it looked like they might make a comeback, Caja countered them earned the upset. Maciej Lampe scored 25 for the hosts followed by Brad Oleson with 15 and a PIR of 23. November Euroleague MVP Vassilis Spanoulis knocked down 18 for Olympiacos and Pero Antic added 13.

Montepashi Siena – Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, 79:69
Montepashi became the second club to earn a Week 1 home upset as they downed a Group F favorite to move out of the Top 16, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in convincing fashion, 79:69. Siena led after every quarter, opening the game 20:15 and heading into the half up 44:35. The hosts added another point to their margin in the third and the clubs played equally in the fourth. Maccabi led three times in the first few minutes of the game, with the last occasion being at 8:9, and they played to a tie score a couple of times early, otherwise Siena led the rest of the way. Tomas Ress scored 18 and finished with a PIR of 24 to end the day as the current leader in the MVP race for Montepaschi. Bobby Brown added 16 points and seven assists for the winners. Shawn James led the visitors with 18.

Group E

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Group F

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