BELGRADE (Reuters) - Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar demonstrated just how much depth an influx of NBA players has added to the Euroleague when he steered Maccabi Tel Aviv to an 88-82 win over Real Madrid Thursday.
The clash of the titans in Europe’s premier club competition produced an electrifying game in which Farmar, who won the 2009 and 2010 NBA titles with the Lakers, shone with 27 points after making 10 of his 12 shots from the field.
“Jordan deserves all the credit for his performance tonight, it had nothing to do with me,” Maccabi coach David Blatt told the competition’s official website (wwww.euroleague.net) after his team came out on top in front of a fervent home crowd.
“Our fans gave us a great push as always, they give us such great support and it’s an advantage very few teams get in Europe,” added Blatt, who won the European Championship with Russia in 2007.
The 52-year-old coach also singled out Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis, nicknamed by his peers “Baby Shaq” because of his uncanny resemblance to former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal.
Schortsanitis had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists as last season’s runners-up Maccabi improved their Group C record to two wins and one defeat.
“Sofoklis played a great game today, he jumped on the floor like a guard and lifted us with his hustle and that was a high-level performance our fans will remember for a long time,” Blatt said.
With tough negotiations in North America on ending the NBA lockout seemingly hitting a dead end, Maccabi and other top contenders in the 24-team competition will hope to keep their imports from across the Atlantic for as long as possible.
Farmar — now under contract with the New Jersey Nets — and most other NBA players who flocked to Europe after talks on ending the trade dispute repeatedly broke down are set to return to North America when the lockout ends.
Partizan Belgrade guard Acie Law, who played for five different NBA teams since 2007, is one of the few players who made a permanent move after signing a one-year contract with the Serbian champions in July.
The 26-year-old playmaker was at the heart of Partizan’s 91-81 home win over Belgians Spirou Charleroi with 26 points and seven assists, having nailed a crucial three-pointer in the last minute when the visitors closed in.
“He is a great guy and the most professional foreigner ever to play for Partizan, hence his good performances should come as no surprise because he works very hard in training sessions,” Partizan coach Vlada Jovanovic said.
“He has blended into the team seamlessly and we are really delighted to have him in our ranks,” Jovanovic added.
Six-time winners CSKA Moscow eased to their third straight win with an 89-47 away demolition of KK Zagreb while holders Panathinaikos Athens take on Lithuanians Zhalgiris Kaunas later Friday.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar