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EuroLeague Diaries: Real Madrid prevails over Elie Ekobo; Zalgiris adds first one in winning column

Fabien Causeur Real Madrid
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

EuroLeague kicked off the double-week with a strong Day one action, including Real Madrid’s statement victory over ASVEL, and the first win of Zalgiris Kaunas in this year’s competition.

Let’s dive into the first day of EuroLeague Round 10.

Real Madrid’s front line wins it for the “Whites” over Elie Ekobo, ASVEL

Real Madrid downed LDLC ASVEL with a huge performance from the front line, overcoming Elie Ekobo’s huge performance of 26 points.

Guerschon Yabusele, who spent last season with ASVEL, and Walter Tavares were instrumental in establishing Real’s dominance in the paint.

Both players combined for a PIR of 45 with Yabusele putting up 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal up in the board. Tavares finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Real Madrid staked a 21-39 advantage over the hosts, including a 3-9 edge on the offensive glass, which was just too much for ASVEL to overcome.

“It was a big fight. It’s always tough to play against ASVEL because they are a physical team. So, we had to stay focused, and that was the key for us. If we hadn’t stayed focused for 40 minutes, it was possible to lose the game,” Tavares said after the game.

Zalgiris Kaunas achieves first win in EuroLeague

Zalgiris had to go through nine consecutive defeats in the 2021-22 EuroLeague regular season to add the first win to its winning column.

One of its most experienced players stepped up to lead the Lithuanian champs past Panathinaikos. Arturas Milaknis went for a team-high 13 points in the contest.

Zalgiris was more effective inside the arc, making 16 of 28 two-pointers (57.1) and committed just eight turnovers to get to its first win.

“First, I would like to thank my players for this win. It was not easy, there was pressure and finally, we won. We kept the opponent under 70 points,” Jure Zdovc said on his squad first EuroLeague win.

“This is good – if you do this, you have a big chance to win. I don’t make a big deal of this win, like I don’t make a big deal when we lost. We must keep going, work, believe and try to win every game.” 

Neven Spahija starts stint in Baskonia with impressive win

Neven Spahija made his debut as Baskonia head coach with an impressive 93-74 victory over Crvena Zvezda. Baskonia came out of the gates with a strong offensive performance, building an early 20-plus point lead.

The Spanish side scored a season-high 93 points, shooting a blitzing 66.7 percent on two-pointers, as well as a solid 42.9% on three-pointers.They also dished out 27 assists to complete an astonishing night.

Spahija returned to EuroLeague after three seasons. His last job in the competition was with Maccabi Tel-Aviv. He then joined the Memphis Grizzlies’ coaching staff, before going to the Chinese CBA last year.

“I saw some talent. I saw some possibility to play at both ends of the court. The players reacted today. We made some threes, and also I have to give them credit for the defense,” Spajiha said after the game.

“We will go step by step. We have to learn about the players and my system. Let’s work on my way and respect the talent and possibility for what they can do. And we will see.” 

Vladimir Lucic’s inspiring performance vs Fenerbahce

Bayern Munich returned to its winning ways thanks to Vladimir Lucic’s big performance vs. Fenerbahce. The German club used a great run in the third quarter to take the advantage over Sasa Djordjevic and Fener.

Lucic scored 12 of Bayern’s 14 points during the third quarter keeping Andrea Trinchieri’s squad ahead entering the fourth quarter.

The Serbian forward finished the contest with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals to end up with a game-high PIR of 28.

“It was a tough game. They’re a great team, as you saw they had great support from their fans here in Munich. Unluckily they lost a few games and we expected a tough game,” Lucic said after the game.

“For us, it’s an important win especially after a few lost games in Europe and one on Sunday in the German Cup, and I think we showed good mentality as a group to come back in this basically back-to-back-to-back week, so I’m happy for the win.”

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