Maccabi edge away from Panathinaikos, Euroleague Top 16 round up

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Panathinaikos 73-70 at home as they improve to 6-2 in Group E of the Euroleague Top 16.

In what was a rematch of the 2011 championship game, both teams came out the blocks quickly, with the hosts seizing the moment early in the second quarter to take a double digit lead.

Panathinaikos would later on find a way to claw themselves back but Maccabi held firm and free throws from Jeremy Pargo helped ice the game.

“It was a very important home win,” said Maccabi coach Guy Goodes. “It was a difficult and aggressive game and it wasn’t the most beautiful game to the eye. In the first half we managed to keep Panathinaikos to 30 points and in the second half we were able to stop some of their three-point attempts.

“Before the game our aim was to win. It is not easy to come and win after playing in the cup final [on Sunday] and bring extra energy. But the guys really came out and fought. We are always aiming to collect wins, and here we collected an important win on the way to our main goal and I am happy for everyone.”

Pargo led Maccabi with 16 points with Panathinaikos’ main threat coming in the form of Vlantimir Giankovits, who also hit 16. The Greens drop to  5-3 after this loss.

Nearer the bottom of Group E, Zalgiris’ hopes of a quarter-final place were slightly lifted after they beat Galatasaray 72-59 in Kaunas.

The Turkish side, without main scoring option Carlos Arroyo for two weeks due to injury looked lost and struggled to put points on the board. The hosts on the other hand were relentless in their approach and took a 22-8 lead after one and never looked back.

“I am happy that our guys, after three games this weekend in the Lithuanian Cup, were fresh tonight and very concentrated,” Zalgiris coach Gntaras Krapikas said. “We played an amazing two first quarters.

“Our offence and defence were really good. We got a bit stuck later on, but it could be expected. We managed to win without big stress and I want to thank the players for that. They executed everything very well.”

Paulius Jankunas led Zalgiris with 12 points as leading scorer James Anderson was held to only 9 points – but in truth – there was no danger here as the newly crowned Lithuanian Cup champions go to 3-5, while Galatasaray drop down to 2-6. Sinan Guler had 16 in defeat.

Real Madrid stay top of Group E following a convincing 85-61 win over Red Star in the Spanish capital.

The Liga Endesa side, who won the Copa del Rey last weekend move to 7-1 in the pool and are all but guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals. Red Star realistically need to win all their remaining games to stand any hope of qualification but they look certain to be eliminated at 1-7.

Jaycee Carroll paced the winners with 17 points. Rudy Fernandez added 15, while Sergio Rodriguez had 13 for Madrid. Boban Marjanovic led Zvezda with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

In Group F, EA7 Milano secured a priceless 85-76 win over Nizhny Novgorod in Russia to slightly help aid their chances of qualification to the quarter-finals.

While MarShon Brooks helped seal the win late in the fourth quarter, Samardo Samuels dominated for the winners with 36 points and 9 rebounds, drawing up an index rating of +47, the third best in Top 16 history.

“We’ve been up and down,” Samuels said. “We just lost a tough one in Italy in the Italian Cup. The atmosphere’s been a little bit weird. It was important for us to put the past behind us and move forward.

“I just wanted to play hard for my team. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. We’re going to tough it out.”

Milano moved to 2-6, while Nizhny, led by Taylor Rochestie’s 21 dropped to the same record.

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