Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv have improved to 3-1 in Group E of the Euroleague Top 16 by leaving Lithuania with a hard-fought 73-66 win over Zalgiris.
After a 14-0 run that stretched the second and third quarters, Maccabi looked in control at 42-37. But the hosts were resilient and struck back. Before long, Zalgiris had the lead and they soon stamped their mark on the third quarter buzzer when James Anderson buried a triple to give his side a 52-48 cushion.
It didn’t last though, as Maccabi showed their championship credentials in the final period. A 9-0 surge put them in control at 63-58 and they never looked back.
Sylven Landesberg led the winners with 20 points, the second-most in his three-year Euroleague career.
Despite the runs in scoring, Maccabi coach Guy Goodes said that it wasn’t the scoring bursts that fuelled his side’s road win.
“It was defence,” he admitted. “We talked before the game about having to stop Zalgiris, and we held them to 66 points. In the first quarter, they were able to run, but I am very happy with our defence after that and in the second half. We played aggressive and punished Zalgiris with fastbreaks. We controlled the tempo and got a very important victory.”
Zalgiris got a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds from Paulius Jankunas to pace them, but they fall to 1-3.
The other Group E contest saw Barcelona stroll to a 92-77 win over visiting Red Star.
Leading 27-21 after the first quarter, Barcelona never looked in trouble as they move to 2-2 and looking forward, are hoping that this could change their subpar start to the Top 16, a round that they usually excel in. Alejandro Abrines finished with 15 points to lead the victors, Ante Tomic added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Red Star Belgrade were led by Slovenian international Jaka Blazic finished as the visitors’ top scorer with 13 points. Boban Marjanovic had 12 points and 7 boards, but the Serbian side remain winless at 0-4.
Olympiacos put the lid on Laboral Kutxa’s basket in the fourth quarter, winning 76-64 in Piraeus.
The Liga Endesa side went five minutes without scoring before being held to just 9 points, where as the Reds hit 22 points to seal their fourth win in four Top 16 games, remaining level with CSKA Moscow on top of Group F.
Vassilis Spanoulis stood out with a game-high 27 points with Darius Adams led Laboral Kutxa with 12 points as they drop to 1-3.
“It is an important victory as all of them are, especially now,” said Olympiacos coach Giannis Sfairopoulos. “The Top 16 is a tough competition which lasts for 14 weeks and you must be strong and mentally ready to play. Tonight we didn’t start well, we were nervous and didn’t take the right decisions either to pass or to shoot the ball.
“Our defence didn’t work as well and allowed points from their penetrations, which we have said that we had to avoid. We improved our performance in the second half, since we forced them to score only 27 points and kept them at 20 points below their average. The good defence gave us more offensive options and the game went our way. I want to thank our fans which helped us in the crucial moments and pushed the players to give their best.”
Nizhny Novgorod further proved that they are not in the Top 16 to make up the numbers in Group F after beating a strong Anadolu Efes side 109-90 in Russia.
Art Parakhouski had a career night with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, enough for Player of the Week honours.
Taylor Rochestie set a Top 16 record with 15 assists and Trey Thompkins added a double double as the hosts improved to 2-2 in Group F, while dropping Efes to the same record. Rochestie recorded 11 points and 3 assists in 25-10 Nizhny start and the hosts never looked back.