Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

The first day of EuroLeague Round 9 did not hold any major upset. However, it offered much-needed drama, especially in Athens and Moscow.

CSKA sneaked past Maccabi Tel Aviv thanks to its impressive defense in the game, while UNICS Kazan enjoyed a narrow win over Panathinaikos behind the amazing game of Isaiah Canaan and Lorenzo Brown.

Let’s dive in the first part of EuroLeague Round 9.

CSKA Moscow demostrates renovative defensive plan to win over Maccabi

CSKA Moscow did what they had to do to stop Maccabi Tel Aviv from taking advantage of their defensive deficiencies. The Russian giants did a great job containing Maccabi from the outside, as the visitors made just 2-of-13 three-pointers.

More importantly, they allowed 9.9 points (73) less than their total of 82.9 per game, which is ranked as the worst average in the competition this season.

CSKA improved its record over Maccabi to 14-2 over the last 16 games thanks to Iffy Lundberg. The Scandinavian led the way for CSKA as he scored a team-high 14 points.

“We came in prepared to fight for 40 minutes and that’s exactly what we did tonight. And I’m just really really proud of the way that we stuck together throughout the game,” Lundberg said after the game.

“Coach told us to keep fighting and trust each other, especially on defense. Ultimately we came out with the win and we’re really happy with the result.” 

Lorenzo Brown, Isaiah Canaan shine in UNICS Kazan road win

UNICS Kazan was able to prevail over Panathinaikos after an impressive performance of their swift guard duo of Lorenzo Brown and Isaiah Canaan.

Isaiah Canaan played an outstanding game off the UNICS bench. The 30-year-old guard played nearly 30 minutes and scored 15 points — hitting 3 of 5 two-pointers and 2 of 5 on three-pointers and all three of his free throw attempts.

He also dished out a season-high five assists. Lorenzo Brown followed Canaan with 13 points to go along with eight rebounds. Both Canaan and Brown combined for a PIR of 30 in Athens to lead the team to a 72-74 win.

“We stayed together at the end. We got the stops that we needed. Give Panathinaikos credit. They came out and played a good game. Their crowd was amazing.

They feed off that crowd. They play good at home. We were expecting a good game. We just made the stops and plays at the end,” Canaan said.

Nikola Ivanovic returns from isolation to lead Crvena Zvezda

Nikola Ivanovic missed four games due to COVID-19, but returned to action in his team’s home game against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.

Ivanovic came off the bench and had a stellar performance in front of almost 7,000 fans at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. He sealed the deal for his team midway through the fourth quarter by burying back-to-back threes to increase Zvezda’s lead to 15 (63-48).

He finished the game with 14 points, on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, plus five assists, two steals and five fouls drawn for a PIR of 18.

“We pushed ourselves and made that extra effort to win the game. Honestly, it feels great to be back,” Ivanovic claimed after the end of the contest.

It is really hard when you are on the sidelines and watch the games on TV and you are not able to help, but it just feels good to be back, especially when it is my first game in front of our home crowd. It is a nice feeling.”

Vasilje Micic returns to his usual standard

Vasilje Micic experienced a tough three-game stint in the EuroLeague against Armani Milano, Zalgiris and Zenit, however he returned to his usual standards in the Anadolu Efes blowout victory over ALBA.

Micic bounced back with 19 points, nine assists, four rebounds, four steals and six fouls drawn for a game-high PIR of 28. That was also a season-high for the Serbian guard, who is still averaging great numbers, despite Efes mediocre start.

The veteran guard scored his 2,000th career point with a three-pointer two and a half minutes into the second quarter. He became the 45th player in competition history to reach that number.

“We really needed it. We have a lot of good players starting from the point guard position to the ‘5’ position. We can all take responsibility and in each game, it doesn’t matter who is more responsible.

I try to play my best and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but my approach is always to give my maximum,” Micic said in his statement after the contest.