Basketball royalty clashed on Thursday in the Euroleague with Spanish giants Real Madrid usurping Greece’s European Champion, Panathinaikos by 10 points.
The hotly anticipated match never failed to live up the expectations with the home side rarely looking like dropping their lead as the match drew to a close. Olympiakos, meanwhile, stormed to a huge win in Athens over Letuvos Rytas of Lithuania while Maroussi went down narrowly at home to the undefeated Lottomatica Roma.
Real Madrid (SPA) 80 Panathinaikos 70
Real Madrid fired a warning shot to the Euroleague by downing defending European champion Panathinaikos 80-70 in front of 12,500 fans at Palacio Vistalegre in the Spanish capital on Thursday night.
Both teams now join BC Khimki Moscow region in a three-way tie for the top spot in Group D, all with a 2-1 record. Rimantas Kaukenas led the winners with 17 points. Darjus Lavrinovic added 15, Sergio Llull had 12 while Pablo Prigioni got 11 for Madrid.
Nikola Pekovic had 22 points for Panathinaikos while Drew Nicholas added 16. Panathinaikos managed to find Pekovic in the low post for easy points in the early going. He got some help from Milenko Tepic and Antonis Fotsis to give the Greens a 12-23 margin early in the second quarter. Madrid improved its defence, excelled at double-teaming Pekovic and made Panathinaikos go scoreless for 8 minutes.
Lavrinovic and Llull fueled a game-changing 20-0 run that allowed Madrid to get a 34-28 margin at halftime. Lavrinovic stayed unstoppable while Prigioni shined after the break to keep Madrid way ahead, 59-51, after 30 minutes. Three-pointers by Prigioni and Llull sealed the outcome, 74-63, with 3 minutes to go, enough for all Madrid fans to confirm that their team may reach really high in the 2009-10 Euroleague season.
Olympiakos 97 Lietuvos Rytas (LIT) 73
Olympiakos bounced back from its initial loss in the 2009-10 Euroleague regular season and improved to 2-1 by downing previously undefeated Lietuvos Rytas 97-73 in Greece on Wednesday. Both teams tie for second place in Group A, each with a 2-1 record and right behind undefeated leader Unicaja, that hosts Efes Pilsen tomorrow.
Josh Childress added 18 on 6-of-6 two-pointers while Milos Teodosic had 12 for Olympiakos. Milko BJelica led L. Rytas with 16 points. Arturas Jomantas added 15 while Steponas Babrauskas had 12 for the guests. Childress had 10 points in the first quarter while Teodosic beat the buzzer with a wild three-pointer to give Olympiakos a double-digit lead, 25-14, after 10 minutes. Olympiakos kept playing hard at both ends, while Kleiza had 12 points in the second period to break the game open, 52-31, at halftime.
L. Rytas managed to get within 56-44 midway through the third quarter but Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic and Childress fueled a 17-2 run that sealed the outcome late in the third quarter. Olympiakos coach, Panagiotis Giannakis was pleased with his side’s performance.
“The team showed the crowd good basketball tonight. We played well throughout the whole game. And even when we lost a bit of our concentration because of the big lead, we came back and increased the margin again. “We controlled the game from minute one,” he continued. “We had to face a team that runs and shoots the ball very well, but we handled them. We will keep trying to improve day by day. Our goal is to reduce our turnovers and increase our speed. Time will do us good.”
Maroussi 71 Lottomatica Roma (ITA) 83
Roma led early and then held off a tough Maroussi BC down the stretch to get a hard-earned 71-83 win in Group C on Wednesday.
On the strength of the road victory, Roma remained the only undefeated team in the group with a prefect 3-0 record while Maroussi dropped to 1-2. Jamon Lucas paced Maroussi with 15 points to go with 4 steals. Billy Keys robbed 4 balls of his own while notching 11 points.
Big men Kostas Kaimakoglou and Jared Homan added 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the losing effort. Roma opened up a 12-point lead in the second quarter, and even though Maroussi was able to get to within 3 points on various occasions, Roma always stepped up to defend its advantage and held on to win.