4 Min Read
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes delighted Istanbul fans with remarkable wins in Europe's premier club basketball competition but CSKA Moscow spoiled the Turkish party with a 85-58 rout of Besiktas on Friday.
Holders Olympiakos Piraeus scraped a 79-77 home win over Euroleague debutants Cedevita Zagreb while 2010 champions Barcelona eked out an 85-82 victory against 1992 winners Partizan Belgrade thanks to an audacious three-pointer by Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas.
CSKA stretched their perfect start to four wins after Sonny Weems, October's most valuable player in the Euroleague, continued to torment his rivals with another devastating display of skills honed during his three-year stint in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors.
The versatile guard, who averaged 20.33 points last month to top the competition's scoring chart, poured in 18 points and Serbian centre Nenad Krstic added as many for last season's runners-up.
"This was a very important win against an excellent and well organized team still unbeaten in the Turkish league and it came primarily as a result of outstanding defense," CSKA's Italian coach Ettore Messina told the club's official website (www.cskabasket.com).
"We played with understanding and desire and our good movement of the ball in attack opened up a lot of uncontested long-range shots."
Besiktas coach Erman Kunter added: "CSKA proved today that they are one of the biggest candidates for the Final Four, they made a big impact in the beginning of the game and we had no reply for their scoring runs."
Fenerbahce beat six-time champions Panathinaikos 73-64 thanks to a barrage of three-pointers in the second quarter, with Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic nailing three of his four in quick succession.
Efes pulled off the biggest feat of a rip-roaring fourth round in the preliminary group stage when they outscored home side Caja Laboral 46-16 in the second half to beat the Spanish outfit 76-64 in front of noisy fans in the Basque city of Vitoria.
Caja seemed in complete control after taking an 18-point lead into the dressing room at halftime but looked disjointed in their inexplicable collapse after the break.
They ended the match hitting only 14 of 36 shots from two-point range and seven of 27 behind the three-point arc as former Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar scored 18 points for Efes, burying eight of his 10 shots from the field.
"It was a huge difference between the first half and the second, our offence was completely illogical as we limited our game to long-range shooting and didn't try to penetrate or put the ball inside," Caja's Montenegrin coach Dusko Ivanovic said.
"They played much better defense, they got tougher and covered the passing lines very well while we came out relaxed and couldn't get back into the game after throwing away the lead."
Barcelona also made it four wins out of four but were made to sweat by a spirited Partizan side who came agonizingly close to registering their first Euroleague victory this season.
With the game hanging in the balance in a knife-edged climax, man of the match Huertas hurled a loose ball from eight meters towards the basket and the buzzer-beating shot cannoned in off the board - to the dismay of Partizan's bench and much to the relief of the home fans and players.
"We knew that Partizan are a very intense team that plays with a lot of energy but we hit our three-point shots at crunch time and it's a matter of confidence," said Huertas, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half.
Lithuanians Zalgiris Kaunas, who won the title in 1999, overcame Emporio Armani Milan 92-87, eight-time winners Real Madrid beat Italians Cantu 80-66 and Maccabi Tel Aviv strolled to a 93-62 home rout of Polish rivals Asseco Prokom.
Editing by Mark Meadows