Strugglers Galatasaray surprised EuroLeague leaders Real Madrid 87-84 as they ended the Liga Endesa side’s nine-game unbeaten run stretching back nearly three months.
The win for Galatasaray also gives hope to the chasing pack of CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos and Fenerbahce and creates breathing room between themselves and basement side EA7 Milano. The Playoff picture might be out of reach, but a win against the league leaders will restore some pride.
“Our players showed amazing character tonight,” said Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman. “It’s not easy to play these kinds of games when you don’t have goals mentally. You play against the league leaders.
“We played smart basketball from the beginning of the game. We put serious pressure on Real Madrid’s guards. We defended well under the basket with Pleiss and Daye. We took the lead by 17 points with Sinan’s penetrations and the outside shots of Micov and Diebler. Then we showed signs of fatigue. We won by evaluating the strategy of the game well in the last minute.”
Austin Daye led the winners with 20 points, Jon Diebler added 17 on 5/5 three-point shooting.
Galatasaray’s win rocked EA7 Milano as they slumped to an 87-74 defeat on the road to Playoff hopefuls Baskonia to stay rooted to the bottom of the standings.
The Italian giants showed great promise in the first half but faltered badly in the third quarter as defensive lapses allowed Baskonia to score easy buckets, en route to a comfortable win.
“It felt good to come back to our level on defence,” said Baskonia’s Kim Tille who led the winners with 19 points.
“We played really aggressive and forced them to turn the ball over and take tough shots, then we ran and that is the way we enjoy basketball. It is great to finally get a win at home in front of our fans.”
Real Madrid’s loss to Galatasaray opened the door for the chasing pack and two of those sides, Olympiacos and Fenerbahce graciously took advantage with wins on the road.
Olympiacos were impressive in their 82-71 victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in Israel as the visitors took the lead for good with a 16-5 run that bridged the first and second quarters and built a double-digit margin for the first time in the second quarter, before opening a 15-point advantage in the third.
Erick Green paced the Reds with 16 points. Maccabi, who were without Devin Smith, Andrew Goudelock and Quincy Miller, were led by Sylvan Landesberg’s 17 points.
Fenerbahce survived a scare to ultimately get the better of Zalgiris 76-67 in a physical encounter in Kaunas.
Playing without key contributors Kostas Sloukas and Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce lifted its record to 16-8 and solidified its fourth-place standing, while Zalgiris fell to 10-14 and remains in 10th place.
Ekpe Udoh led the Fenerbahce defense to shut down any Zalgiris comeback tries and he was rewarded with 16 points, seven rebounds, a career-high five assists and four blocks.
Crvena Zvezda led from start to finish as they had no problem in disposing of Brose Bamberg 74-60 in Belgrade.
Charles Jenkins scored 18 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting to lead Zvezda, which improved to 14-10, while further dimming Bamberg’s playoff hopes as the visitors lost their fifth straight road game to fall to 8-16.
“We played well in the first half and the start of the third quarter was exactly like the first 20 minutes,” said Red Star coach Dejan Radonjic.
“After that we had a lot of problems, on defence and on offence. We played well in the fourth quarter for five minutes. It’s a big win for us. We have problems with injuries and played without important players.”