TODAY’S ZAMAN – ulker pounds Panathinaikos, Efes secures ticket for Euroleague Top 16

ulker pounds Panathinaikos, Efes secures ticket for Euroleague Top 16Fenerbahe ulker revenged the seasonandrsquos worst loss against coach Zeljko Obradovicandrsquos former team Panathinaikos with a comfortable 84-62 win over the Greek champions at ulker Sports Arena, while Anadolu Efes secured an early ticket to the Top 16 with a 66-57 win over 1999 winner Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania on Thursday.Andrew Goudelock paced the winners with 18 points and Semih Erden added 14 points and seven rebounds.

AJ Slaughterandrsquos 20 points were not enough to save Panathinaikos from a defeat in Istanbul. Obradovicandrsquos men, already qualified to the Top 16, improved its record to 6-2 and took the second spot in Group C, trailing leader BarcelonaThere was close competition in the first quarter, which ended in a 18-18 tie.

Melih MahmutoIluandrsquos three pointers helped Fenerbahe go up 36-32 at halftime. Obradovicandrsquos team had a storming start to the second half with four back-to-back three pointers and reached a double digit margin.

Led by Erden, Fenerbahe seized a 22-point aantage and was up 67-48 into the last 10 minutes. The hosts controlled the game in the fourth quarter and did not allow Panathinaikos scorers to work, eventually wrapping up the game 84-62.

Obradovic said after the match that his team needs to maintain its self-confidence for the upper stages of the competition. andldquoEverybody should stay healthy and strong.

andrdquoIn Lithuania, Efes secured a ticket to the Top 16 with two games to spare and tied with Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid on the top of the Group A US guard Dontaye Draper shined with 14 points and Stratos Perperoglou added 13 for the victory.There were no points for almost four minutes at the beginning of the match, which followed an amazing 9-0 Efes run afterwards.

It was not until the eighth minute when the hosting side tallied its first points and made it 9-2. The visitors maintained momentum and took a 16-2 lead in the first quarterEfes became one of a few teams to stop its opponent at two points in a quarter in Euroleague.

Dusan Ivkovicandrsquos men kept the margin in double digits in the second quarter Eighteen-year-old Efes forward Okben Ulubay started the scoring for Efes. A 7-0 run brought Zalgiris to close at 9-18.

Draper shined as Efes was up 32-20 at halftime.Draper-Ulubay duo extended the margin to 16 at the beginning of the third quarter and led 48-36 going into the last 10 minutes.

Efes faltered in defense and the hosting side reduced the margin to single digits halfway through the final quarter, 43-52. James Anderson was alone keeping the hosts in the game with his points from behind the arch, however Efes did not let any last-second surprises and won the game 66-57.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid and holder Maccabi Tel Aviv reached the Euroleague Top 16 with two games to spare after Thursdayandrsquos games in Europeandrsquos premier club competition.Real, the winner of a record eight titles, beat Russiaandrsquos Nizhny Novgorod 101-98 and Maccabi ground a 95-89 home win against Alba Berlin.

The Real Spanish side trailed a fired-up Nizhny after three quarters but turned the match thanks to solid free-throw shooting, nailing 35 of 41 attempts from the foul line including seven of the last eight in a dramatic finish.Alba had five players who scored in double digits and briefly threatened to upset the champion before playmaker Jeremy Pargo hit two audacious three-pointers in the closing minutes.

Devin Smith led Maccabi with a game-high 26 points and Brian Randle added 21 against his former club, while Jamel McLean led Alba with 16 points and nine rebounds.French side Limoges kept its slim hopes of aancing after a surprise 67-64 win over Spaniards Unicaja Malaga while Russians Unics Kazan beat Italyandrsquos Dinamo Sassari 72-68.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman