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Watch: Barca hold onto top spot with El Classico win

Barcelona took sole lead on Week 14 of the EuroLeague after winning their El Classico game on Friday against rivals Real Madrid, the side which had occupied joint-top spot with them after 13 games. Bottom sides Baskonia and Panathinaikos took their early frustrations out on ASVEL and ALBA Berlin with 30+ point wins. Last season’s champions Anadolu Efes look to be in a rut after a recent string of losses in the competition. 

The first El Classico of the EuroLeague season lived up to its billing as Barcelona took the win over rivals Real Madrid with a 93-80 full-time score at the Palau Blaugrana on Friday in an enticing finale to the week’s games. What started out a tit-for-tat game, became another Nikola Mirotic show from three-point range. The Barca forward put up 31 points to lead the game in scoring, while making it a double-double game with 10 rebounds. Nicola Laprovittola and Brandon Davies both added 16 points to help Barca’s lead. For Real, Fabien Causeur and Thomas Heurtel led with 11 points each. 

Following the game, Mirotic spoke about how difficult a game, it was for them and how important it was for them to win.

“It was a very difficult game for us and very emotional for me as well,” Mirotic told reporters. 

“Me and my teammates, we know how important it was. The beginning of the game was huge, we had to play physical against them. We had a not very good third quarter but we kept fighting and we never gave them the chance. It was a great performance and Palau was amazing so I feel blessed.”

Barcelona fans also had the opportunity to watch new signing Dante Exum on his EuroLeague debut- one which could have been better after he finished with two points, two rebounds, and one assist after 12 minutes.

Baskonia run riot against ASVEL

Fellow Spanish side Baskonia took out frustration after three straight losses with a huge 91-66 win over ASVELon Thursday. Baskonia exploded after a tied 19-all first quarter to take the rest of the game. Rokas Giedraitis and Simone Fontecchio led in scoring for Baskonia with 15 points each, as Steven Enoch added 14 and five rebounds, while Wade Baldwin and Matthew Costello both scored 13 points to close off the double-digit scorers for the side. ASVEL’s Christopher James Jones jr led the game with 17 points as Victor Wembanyama added 10 and five rebounds.

Panathinaikos, who are also in the basement of the competition ran riot against ALBA Berlin on Friday with an 82-67 win in Greece to get close to their opponent’s win-loss record as they now stand at 4-10. Once again, it was a dominant performance for the home side as Panathinaikos had an opening 30-point quarter, lost only the second, and regained their dominance in the second half. Daryl Macon led the side with 20 points and 11 assists, as Leonidas Kaselakis followed with 17 points. Howard Sant-Roos added 16 and Georgios Papagianis 14 and 10 rebounds. ALBA had Marcus Eriksson score 18 points, as Oscar Da Silva added 13 and Jaleen Smith scored 11. 

Efes have now suffered a loss in their latest two games of the EuroLeague as they lost 83-71 to Bayern Munich on Thursday. Last season’s champions looked nothing like their best as Bayern took three of four quarters on the night. The Bavarians had three players on 18 points – Deshaun Thomas, Vladimir Lucic, and Augustine Rubit. Lucic ended the night with a double-double after grabbing 12 boards. 18 was a common number on the night as Efes’ leaders also scored 18 points, this time guards Rodrigue Beaubois and Shane Larkin. Bryant Dunston scored 13 as Vasilije Micic added 12. 

UNICS Kazan continued on their positive run with a 74-85 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Thursday. This was a balanced affair but a last quarter surge, outscoring Maccabi 22-8 earned the Russians the win. Lorenzo Brown led the game in scoring with 26 points, adding six rebounds and six assists. Isaiah Canann followed with 18 points and Mario Hezonja scored 14. For Maccabi, the usual Scottie Wilbekin led the side with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Jalen Reynolds and James Nunnally both added 12 points to Ante Zizic’s 11.

At the bottom of the standings, Zalgiris still can’t catch a break, as they fell to another tough loss, this time a 51-73 defeat to CSKA Moscow. Nikola Milutinov led the game with a 19 points-12 rebounds double-double, as Alexey Shved added 17 points. For the Kaunas side, Josh Nebo was the only player in double-digits with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Recovery for Milano, Fenerbahce

Olimpia Milano finally recovered from a troubled run over the last five games, losing four but winning Friday’s game against Monaco 65-71. Milano, who remain in fourth despite the losses, were in-form on the night as they controlled play and led throughout after changing the initial Monaco lead in the first minute of the game. Sergio Rodriguez led the side with 13 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Kyle Hines added 11 points and another six rebounds with Malcolm Delaney scoring 10 points. Paris Lee, who opened the game’s scoring from the charity stripe, led the game in scoring with 19 points for Monaco. Danilo Andusic added 12 with Dwayne Bacon completing the double-digit scorers’ list with 10. 

Red Star edged Olympiacos on Thursday with an 81-76 win in Belgrade. Red Star had the edge throughout and Nikola Kalinic led with 25 points, six assists, and four rebounds. Luka Mitrovic followed with 12 points and eight rebounds as Dejan Davidovac added 11. Nate Wolters and Nikola Ivanovic finished the night with an identical stat line – 10 points, four assists, and one rebound. For the Greek side, Tyler Dorsey put up 18 points as last week’s MVP Sasha Vezenkov and Kostas Sloukas scored 12. 

Fenerbahce, who have also suffered a tough losing streak, won their second game in a row, this time taking an 80-86 win over Zenit St Petersburg. Jan Vesely put up a clinic on the night with 32 points, leading the game and the week in scoring. All-time PIR leader Nando De Colo added 18 points as Dyshawn Pierre scored 13. Zenit, who managed to contain their opponents around the half-time break, will have Jordan Loyd to thank as the guard put up 19 points on the night. Mindaugas Kuzminskas added another 17 as the only other double-digit scorer for the side. 

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