Real Madrid comfortably defeated Partizan 80-64 in Belgrade to open Group F of the Euroleague Top 16.
The visitors never trailed, as the Liga Endesa side remain undefeated in a game played in front of 21,374 fans. Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez paced Real Madrid with 16 points each with Ioannis Bourousis adding 15 points and 9 rebounds to the tally.
“I saw a young and talented Partizan team,” said Fernandez. “I like to play in an atmosphere like this in Belgrade. Now we have to forget all our victories and play each new game like we did tonight.”
Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso added: “Offensively it was very strange game. We missed some open shots and scored from some difficult situations. We knew Partizan plays very good defense and we are lucky for the win and because we started the Top 16 phase with a victory. It is not easy to win in Belgrade.”
Tarence Kinsey led Partizan with 17 points as they played with head coach Dusko Vujosevic who was hospitalized with kidney problems. Assistant Velimir Gasic stood in for Vujosevic in his absence.
“Congratulations to Real for the win they deserved,” Gasic said. “They showed talent and quality. Real is an excellent team and now we can see why they have won 26 straight games. We lost concentration in some phases of the game.”
The other game in Group F saw Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv come from behind to edge Galatasaray 9-84 in Istanbul.
Ricky Hickman led Maccabi with 24 points as the Israeli side turned around a 47-40 half-time deficit to pull themselves together and it took a 12-0 fourth quarter surge for them to get the win.
“We didn’t defend badly in the first half, but they were very good in terms of shooting percentage,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “In the second half we tried to change that. We were better at one-on-one plays and rebounds.
“Offensive-wise we were successful. We will play 14 games in this Top 16. Two years ago this win might help put us in a more advantageous position. Now, it doesn’t mean that much anymore. But it’s still good to win a road game.”
Carlos Arroyo led Galatasaray with 19 points, which included five three-pointers. Forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu was welcomed back to the side following suspension. He registered 7 points and 9 rebounds, off the bench.
In Group E, Panathinaikos got their Top 16 off and running with a 73-57 win over EA7 Milano at the OAKA.
After a reasonably close first half, the Greek side pulled clear in the third quarter, holding their Italian opponents to just 9 points as Panathinaikos led 52-40, heading into the fourth period and they never looked back.
James Gist led the winners with 12 points, while Alessandro Gentile led EA7 Milano with 14 points.
Barcelona began their Top 16 campaign with an 84-65 win at home to Anadolu Efes.
The hosts were always comfortable as Juan Carlos Navarro led them with 21 points with Brad Oleson adding 13.
“I am happy with this win,” said Barca coach Xavi Pascual. “It is always important to start the Top 16 with a win. We managed to decide the game in the first half. We played really well, rebounded well and ran the break. We played really well throughout the entire first half other than turnovers, which was the only negative thing before half-time. From that moment, we managed to keep leads around 20 points.
“It was tough for us in the third quarter, but we managed to get this important win. We played great defense in the first half, with good rhythm and character.”
Semih Erden led the guests with 15 points.
The all-Spanish affair saw Laboral Kutxa win 93-79 on the road against Unicaja Malaga.
Vitoria though had to recover from a horrendous start, as they were 24-13 down after the first period. They won the next three quarter comfortably though, en route to the win.
Andres Nocioni led Laboral with 20 points, going 100 percent from three-point land, going 4/4. Zoran Dragic had a game-high 22 in vain for Malaga.