Panathinaikos secured a 67-66 win over Zalgiris in Athens in a closely-fought contest to end week one of the Euroleague Top 16.
Former NBA three-point specialist Jason Kapono marked his Euroleague debut for Panthinaikos by leading them with 16 points, including four triples as they came from behind in the fourth to collect the win.
Despite trailing at the end of the third, the Lithuanian champions hit back to race ahead and look set for the win, but the Greens, playing without Dimitris Diamantidis from the second quarter onwards due to injury struck when it mattered. With time winding down, Zalgiris got the ball to Darjus Lavrinovic for a wide-open game-winning jumper, but it was short and the hosts raced away with the win.
“Under these circumstances, it is a very appreciated win,” Panathinaikos coach Argiris Pedoulakis said.
“We missed our creative players and this was a big problem, because we were forced to play with only one point guard and didn’t move the ball well. Zalgiris was able to read the situation and took advantage of it. I think that our players are overachievers. Some of them led the others, because they realized that the situation was too dangerous.”
Ksistof Lavrinovic led Zalgiris with 13 points.
CSKA Moscow started their Top 16 campaign with a comfortable 90-71 win over Anadolu Efes in the Russian capital.
Nenad Krstic and Sonny Weems both had 22 points to lead CSKA as they blew the game open in the second half after being level at 42-42 at the half-time break.
When we qualified, we played some up-and-down games and now we are starting anew,” CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina said.
“My congratulations to our players. They were very patient even after some turnovers and under good defence by opponents under the basket. Our team played smart, unselfish and disciplined enough to find Weems and Krstic who stepped up tonight. Besides Jackson did an excellent defensive job on [Jordan] Farmar in the second half. It is important that we won with a big margin, which will help us in the standings.”
Farmar led all scorers for Anadolu Efes with 24 points and he dished out six assists. CSKA Moscow handed a debut to veteran Theo Papaloukas, who got an assist in just over five minutes on the court.
Barcelona had little trouble in disposing Fenerbahce 100-78 in the Palau Blaugrana.
After qualifying by the skin of the teeth in the regular season, Fenerbahce are already looking like they might struggle in the Top 16 following this lackluster showing in which Barcelona led from tip-to-buzzer. Marcelinho Huertas and Juan Carlos Navarro led six Barcelona scorers in double digits with 14 points each. Ante Tomic got a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bojan Bogdanovic led all scorers for the Turkish side with 19 but it’s of little consolation.