Reigning Euroleague champion Panathinaikos was condemned to a home loss by Serbian challengers Partizan at OAKA.
The Greek side looked lacklustre in offence with few options and fewer scorers.
Olympiakos in contrast produced a dynamic display to see off Caja Laboral in Vitoria, Spain.
Maroussi suffered a defeat on the road to Barcelona in its first ever Top 16 match.
Panathinaikos 59 Partizan (SRB) 64
Partizan stunned hosts Panathinaikos at OAKA, finishing the game on a 2-13 run, winning 59-64 on Wednesday.
The Serbian champs limited the Euroleague champs to just 17 second-half points to start Group E with a big upset.
Despite being without star centre Aleks Maric, Partizan found other heroes, like Lawrence Roberts, who recorded his first Euroleague double double in helping Partizan out-rebound the Greens 31-41, and Petar Bozic and Jan Vesely, who both scored season highs.
After taking the lead midway through the first quarter, Panathinaikos remained ahead Dusan Kecman, a Euroleague champ last season with the Greens, drilled a three-pointer to put his team on top 57-59.
The game came down to the final minute, when Bozic came up with a clutch offensive rebound and made a three-pointer to put his team ahead by 3 and Vassilis Spanoulis, an 89.2% free throw shooter this season entering the game, missed twice with 12.9 seconds to play. Vesely iced the game from the line at the other end as Partizan celebrated a major victory.
Vesely finished with 13 points and Bozic 12. Roberts amassed 12 points and 10 rebounds and Aleksandar Rasic netted 10. Slavko Vranes was big in the middle with 8 rebounds and 4 blocks, giving him 13 rejections in his last three games.
Spanoulis finished with 14 points and 5 assists and Dimitris Diamantidis added 11 in defeat.
Partizan hosts Regal FC Barcelona next week, while Panathinaikos faces Maroussi.
A less than impressed Zeljko Obradovic (PAO head coach) said after the match, “Before the game I said that Partizan is very dangerous and they know how to play. That the first thing we should take care of was our defence and rebounds, since Partizan had an average of 11 offensive boards in the regular season. They had 3 in the first half and 11 in the second half and that was our biggest problem. In addition, we played one of the worst offensive games ever. We were 5 of 15 on two-point shots, 1 of 12 three-point shots and 4 of 8 free throws after halftime. We lost the Top 16 opening game, but there are five more and we will keep on fighting until the end.”
Caja Laboral (SPA) 85 Olympiakos 89
A seesawing and thrilling encounter kicked off the Top 16 in Group H on Thursday as Olympiakos outlasted Caja Laboral 85-89 on the road in Vitoria, Spain.
The victory by the Reds tied them with Khimki for first place in Group H, a match that the Reds will remember for keeping at bay one Caja Laboral comeback after another.
Olympiakos seized double-digit leads in three different quarters and Caja Laboral erased all but the last of them.
Star turns by half the Olympiakos line-up were all needed to overcome the hosts. Josh Childress shone with 21 often-acrobatic points, including a key late triple, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Ioannis Bourousis followed with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Linas Kleiza scored 18 and had 7 rebounds. Milos Teodosic added 14 points and 6 assists while he and Theo Papaloukas, who had 6 assists, too, teamed up for key plays in the fourth-quarter takeover by the Reds.
Reds forward Kleiza indicated he and his side were prepared to focus for the duration of the Top 16, saying “There are lot of games left, and all of them are going to be tough ones. It’s always important to start by winning, especially on the road, and Vitoria is one of the toughest places to win, so we feel satisfied.”
He continued, “We managed to stop their transition game, we prevented them from running, which is how they are used to playing. They try to play very fast, make a lot of threes, but we stayed cool and that led us to the win. The game could have gone either way. I think it was a matter of better execution in the clutch moments.”
Barcelona (SPA) 79 Maroussi 69
Barcelona opened the Top 16 continuing its regular season win streak, and disposing of the visiting Athenian side Maroussi.
The hosts won by 79-69, regularly maintaining a 15 point buffer and suffering few problems during the 40 minutes.
With strong defence in the first quarter, Barca managed to build a solid lead that only was threatened in the second half when Maroussi managed to forge a 0-10 run.
Several big three pointers staved off the Maroussi threat and the buffer zone was restored.
The win allows Barcelona to start with a 1-0 record in Group E, while Maroussi in contrast is at 0-1.
For Maroussi, Jamon Lucas led all scorers with 24 points, Pat Calathes contributed 13 and Dimitris Mavroeidis posted 12.
Calathes told reporters after the match, “We lost against the best team we have played against this season. Barcelona is a great team, well covered in every position with two or three players, so in the end I am happy with our game and the final result. For us as a club, for the players and coaches, too, this Top 16 will be an experience we can use for the future.”
Giorgios Bartzokas, Maroussi head coach indicated his side had already performed above its aim.
“Our first objective, to be in the Top 16, is already complete, and I am proud of my team,” he said.
“Against Barca we had no real option of winning, although in some moments we got close enough to hope. Then two or three mistakes took that opportunity away. For us, it’s a great experience to play in this phase of the Euroleague and play against the best teams.”