Photo: EuroLeague Basketball

EuroLeague Round 17 opened up with some great close-fought battles, as Day 1 produced a pair of thrillers among the three Wednesday matchups.

FC Barcelona and ALBA Berlin set new club EuroLeague records, while Vasilije Micic dominated Crvena Zvezda leading Anadolu Efes to a huge comeback victory.

FC Barcelona ties record for free throws in OT thriller vs UNICS

Barcelona was able to remain undefeated against UNICS Kazan, as the Catalans slipped past the Russian team in OT.

Barcelona needed 111 points to reach the win and tie the EuroLeague record for free throws. The Spanish giants went 44 times on the free throw line and made 42 of them.

It was the fourth team to reach that number (42 makes), but Barca needed the fewest attempts to reach this mark. Only Maccabi Tel Aviv, Cibona and Panathinaikos hit 42 free throws in the history of the league.

Cibona took 48 free throw attempts, Maccabi 50 and Panathinaikos 53. Barcelona is 7-0 against the Russian powerhouse in EuroLeague action and in European competitions.

“I feel great! Such an amazing win! A difficult one. We have been down all the game but in the end, we came with some amazing stops, our crowd helped us a lot, so it is a huge win before a little Christmas break, so I am very happy for the team. We are doing a good job,” Nikola Mirotic said after the game.

Vasilije Micic takes over in the last two minutes against Crvena Zvezda

While FC Barcelona returned from 20 points down to win against UNICS, Anadolu Efes made a huge comeback against Crvena Zvezda to claim an important win.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul rallied from a 7-point deficit in the final 2 minutes to edge the Serbian powerhouse. Reigning EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic had Efes’ final 10 points, including the game-sealing free throws with 0.9 seconds left. 

Micic finished with 21 points and a great showing in the crunch time. He drew a couple of fouls and hit all 4 free throws to cut the deficit from 74-81 to 78-81.

Micic soon added a driving layup which Nikola Kalinic erased with a jumper with 15.7 seconds remaining. Instead of looking for a three, Micic banked another close shot.

Efes fouled Kalinic, who missed both free throw attempts. Then, Micic made it to the line and made two winning free throws to conclude an epic comeback.

“Many times I mentioned, I really don’t know what is the score in the game. Maybe it is healthy sometimes to stay cool,” Micic said.

“I mean, we didn’t give up. They played a really, really good game. They actually had the best defense all season long, so far, and this is something we wanted to break somehow.”

ALBA Berlin achieves new club record in win over AS Monaco Basket

ALBA Berlin secured a victory over AS Monaco Basket to improve its record to 6-11. The Berliners are known for their three-point shooting, and they are one of the worst shooting teams from inside the three-point line.

Both teams shot below 34% from beyond the arc on Wednesday’s contest, but ALBA was able to clinch the win by dominating from inside the three-point line

ALBA finished this game at 71.8% two-point shooting, a club record in EuroLeague. They had never before shot better than 70% in a EuroLeague game, but in this one the team missed only nine two-point shots on 32 attempts.

“We know they are an extremely talented team, they score a lot of points. We managed to get a 10-point lead at halftime, then they started coming back a little bit.

I think the key of the game is that we were able to stick together at that moment, even when they made their runs, and in the end, we managed to get a win,” Marcus Eriksson said on his team’s victory.