With no time to stop and breathe, the best clubs on the continent are entering Round 19 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. Just a day after Round 18 wrapped, there were four games on Thursday to welcome the next round of action. On Thursday, each home team claimed victory, and each managed to do so off the back of excellent first half performances.
Khimki Moscow Region vs. Olympiacos, 82-54
In a massive home win, Khimki smashed Olympiacos to guarantee rival CSKA Moscow sole possession of first place this week. If Olympiacos had won and CSKA loses tomorrow, the teams would be on the same record. After this loss, the Greek team is at 13-6 and will be below CSKA no matter what. As for Khimki, the club moved to 11-8 and continued its excellent Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. The damage here was done during a huge 28-14 first quarter that allowed the hosts to control the game from there.
Zalgiris Kaunas vs. Valencia, 86-82
After an important win over Barcelona earlier in the week, Valencia could not double up as the Spanish club fell to high-flying Zalgiris. This loss sees the ACB champs fall back to 14th at 6-13, while Zalgiris continues its amazing Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season at 12-7 in sixth place. The hosts were sitting pretty at 47-31 through halftime and was simply cruising. However, Valencia rallied in the second half and clawed back into the game. Zalgiris held on in the closing stages, but this was closer than it needed to be after that first half.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, 89-75
Maccabi Tel Aviv bounced back from a Tuesday loss to see off Crvena Zvezda in an easy home win. The former champ continues to look solid and moved to 10-9 on this win. As for the Belgrade giant, inconsistency has put Crvena Zvezda on 7-12. A strong first half was enough to hand the hosts a sizeable 47-29 lead through the long break. Crvena Zvezda never really got back into the game from there despite briefly closing the gap through the third act.
FC Barcelona Lassa vs. Brose Bamberg, 81-66
If Barcelona is to recover and reach the next round, the club has to start showing the form of former EuroLeague champions. Each week we say the time for a run is now, but it is usually followed by a loss. Barca lost on Tuesday, but pulled off a win here… but is this another false dawn? Either way, the Catalan giant moves to 7-12 while Bamberg falls to the same record. After 20 minutes on the floor, Barca walked into the locker room with a 44-34 lead. The hosts held that winning momentum throughout the second half and eased to victory.