Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

The first part of EuroLeague Round 5 came to an end in fascinating fashion with five close games, including a derby matchup between Real Madrid and Fener, and crazy comeback efforts in Milan and Tel Aviv.

Olimpia Milano climbed to the top of the standings with a close-fought victory over the tough LDLC ASVEL, while Maccabi Tel-Aviv withheld Panathinaikos’ comeback to win its second consecutive game.

Let’s dive in Thursday’s EuroLeague action

Vincent Poirier sets rebound record for Real Madrid

Real Madrid needed an oustanding rebound performance from Vincent Poirier to prevail over Fenerbahce on Thursday. The Frenchman set a new club record in rebounding by pulling down 17 of them.

The β€œWhites” used their powerful frontline to get an important victory, as they recorded 14 offensive rebounds with six of them coming off Poirier, who also added five points, including two clutch free throws at the end of the game.

Poirier broke Edy Tavares previous record of 16 rebounds, which took place against Panathinaikos Athens on March 28, 2019. Real had two of the best rebounders in the game with Tavares and Poirier.

Both players are Top-5 in the competition, with Poirier averaging 7.4 after five games and Tavares pulling down an average of 8.2 rebounds in four appearances this season.

β€œI texted [Edy Tavares] before the game and said ‘don’t worry, I got this’. Unfortunately, for three quarters, I wasn’t there, and in the last quarter, I needed to step up, lead the team and get the win.

So, I did good, I grabbed rebounds. I wasn’t good offensively, but tried to do my best on defense, on the offensive rebounds, and let my shooters shoot,” Poirier said after his huge performance.

OJ Mayo, Yogi Ferrell make EuroLeague debuts

Two former NBAers made their first appearances in EuroLeague last night. OJ Mayo made his debut in UNICS Kazan close-fought loss to Anadolu Efes.

Mayo was held scoreless in his first 10 minutes of play in the competition. In the same game, Elijah Bryant made his debut with Efes, after joining the team earlier this week.

Bryant came off the bench, but ended up playing over 32 minutes, proving he will have a significant role in the reigning champion’s rotation. He finished the contest with 14 points, four rebounds, one steal, a block and two fouls drawn.

In Tel Aviv, Yogi Ferrell experienced his first game overseas with Panathinaikos. He dished a couple of assists in the early going, and his first points came on a pull-up three-pointer.

Ferrell ended up collecting 3 points, 3 assists and 1 turnover in 10 minutes of play during Panathinaikos 77-73 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, James Nunnally continue hot streak of performances

Maccabi Tel Aviv added another victory to their winning column in a game that went south during the last two minutes of the contest.

The Israeli giants gave up a double-digit lead. However, they were able to maintain their poise and improved their record to 3-2. James Nunnaly had another huge game for Maccabi.

The veteran forward finished his third consecutive game with an index rating of 20+, putting up a game-high 25. He finished the game vs. Panathinaikos with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and just one turnover.

Nunnally seems to be in great shape at the start of the season, as he also put up 25 points in Maccabi’s 83-95 win over ASVEL in the previous round.

β€œOh my god, way too dramatic. We were up by 15 plus. We gotta be better at finishing out games, especially at home. We need to just keep playing our game.

Do what got us the lead. We stopped doing that. That’s why they came back,” said Nunnally on his team effort during the last part of the game.

Bayern Munich and the night of the return

After missing the first four games of the season, Vladimir Lucic returned to action in Kaunas and showed why he was selected to the All-EuroLeague team last season.

Bayern was able to secure its first win in the competition Thursday vs. Zalgiris. Lucic became the top performer of the winning team with 17 points, four rebounds and eight fouls drawn.

He was evidently off rhythm; however, he stepped up his game during the final moments of regulation. He first nailed 3 free throws in a row to abort a Zalgiris Kaunas comeback at 68-70 and struck back later with another one that sealed the outcome (73-75) with a few seconds on the clock.

β€œI think we deserved the win, not just tonight, but also in the other games of previous rounds, but I’m happy that we won tonight,” Lucic said on Bayern’s first victory.

“I went like the rest of the world through COVID and I still have some lung issues. So, from the conditioning point of view, I’m not even close to being in shape, but I’m trying to help my team, I know the system, so I just try to be there for my teammates.”

Devon Hall’s decisive three

Devon Hall of Olimpia Milano went scoreless for more than 39 minutes in the game vs. LDLC ASVEL. He finished the game with a total of six attempts and just one make in 21 minutes of play.

Despite being one of Milan’s top performers in previous rounds, he had a rough night against ASVEL’s swarming defense. However, he was there when his team needed him the most. Catch. Shoot. Score:

Hall has an amazing start in his EuroLeague career, being the second leading scorer in his team with 11.0 points per contest, only behind Shavon Shields.

He shoots a whooping 50 percent from deep, providing a huge boost from three-point range. He made one vs. LDCL count on Thursday night as the Italian club walked away with its 5th victory in five EuroLeague games.