Real Madrid stole the show on opening day of this season’s Euroleague with a win over reigning champions Anadolu Efes on Thursday as runners up Barcelona cruised past Alba Berlin the next day. The Times of Malta reviews round one of 2021-22’s edition of the EuroLeague.
Pablo Laso’s Real Madrid cruised past last season’s champions Anadolu Efes on Thursday with a 82-69 victory. Guerschon Yabusele and new signing Thomas Heurtel, who arrived from ASVEL in the summer led the side’s scoring with 15 points apiece, with Walter Tavares adding another 13 in a double-double performance where he also grabbed 12 rebounds. For Efes, star guard Shane Larkin led the game in scoring with 21 points as former Gonzaga center Filip Petrusev adding 17.
Real’s rivals Barcelona were also off to a great start as they crushed Alba Berlin 96-64 on Friday. For Sarunas Jasikevicius’s clan, this was a dominant outing as they took three out four quarters. Friday’s game saw the introduction of new star signing Sertac Sanli from Efes and the center opened his account with eight points. Nikola Mirotic led the game’s scoring with 22 points as new boy Rokas Jokubaitis – on his first out after his move from Zalgiris – finished the night with 12 points. For Berlin, Luke Sikma led with 16 points and 11 rebounds as German International Maodo Loe added 12.
The third Spanish team in this year’s EuroLeague, Baskonia could not give Spain full points last week, as they fell to a tough 75-50 loss to Greek giants Olympiakos on Friday. Forward Sasha Vezenkov scored a game-high 16 points. Giorgios Bartzokas’ side made the most of former ASVEL center Moustapha Fall’s debut as he scored 11 points. For Baskonia, forwards Rokas Giedraitis (15) and former Herbalife Gran Canaria player Matt Costello (11) led the scoring.
Successful debut for Monaco
One Greek titan rose as another fell with Panathinaikos falling to a 75-63 defeat to debutants Monaco on Thursday in the opening fixture of the competition. Last year’s EuroCup champions Monaco have been particularly active in the transfer market and this has proved beneficial as Danilo Andusic, who joined from JL Bourg en Bresse, scored 17 as former Brooklyn Nets and CSKA Moscow guard Mike James added 11. For Panathinaikos, Ioannis Papapetrou led with 16 points as Daryl Macon, who joined from AEK Athens this summer, added 13.
Ettore Messina’s Olimpia Milano eased past CSKA Moscow on Thursday with an 84-74 full time score. The usual Shavon Shields and Sergio Rodriguez led the scoring with 17 points each as former Dallas Mavericks forward Nicolo Melli, who returned to the club he had played with from 2010 to 2015, added 15 points. Iffe Lundberg led the scoring for CSKA with 13 points as Will Clyburn got 12.
ASVEL dominated their opener against Zalgiris as they won 88-76 on Friday winning three and tying another quarter. The French side had their newcomers to thank as Elie Okobo, who joined from the American G League, led the game with 23 points. Christopher jones added 14 and Youssoupha Fall scored 12 and nine rebounds. For the Lithuanians, former CSKA guard Janis Strelnieks scored 21 as Emmanuel Mudiay, another NBA import, added 12 on his debut.
Hot hand for Wilbekin
Scottie Wilbekin was the hero for Maccabi Tel Aviv as he scored the winning shots from the line for a 69-68 win over Bayern Munich. Wilbekin led the game with an impressive performance and 28 points as he was the only Maccabi player to enter double-digits. Former Bayern center Jalen Reynolds only managed six against his former side. Deshaun Thomas, who joined from Toyota Alvark Tokyo in the Japanese League led his side with 15 points as former Red Star guard Corey Walden added 14 as Othello Hunter scored 11 against his former team.
Fenerbahce opened with a 61-57 win over Red Star in a very close game. Dyshawn Pierre was the only one to hit double digits with 13 points, as Jan Vesely and former Khimki center Devin Booker added eight. It was similar for Red Star as new boy Nikola Ivanovic led with 16 as Nate Wolters, who is back with his first EuroLeague club, and Nikola Kalinic each added nine.
UNICS Kazan could not beat compatriots Zenit St Petersburg as Xavi Pasual’s men brushed off the departure of star guard Kevin Pangos for a 70-69 victory. Conner Frankamp, on the back of his move from UCAM Murcia, led with 18 points as sharpshooter Billy Baron added 17. For UNICS, Isaiah Canaan scored 18 as former Portland Trailblazers forward Mario Hezonja, who spent last season in Greece with Panathinaikos added 14.