Landmark for Juan Carlos as Barcelona win
Guard Juan Carlos Navarro became the first player to score 3000 Euroleague basketball points as 2010 champions Barcelona beat fellow Spaniards Caja Laboral Vitoria today to stay on course for the playoffs.
Holders Olympiakos Piraeus rekindled their hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals with a dramatic 78-77 win at quadruple former winners Maccabi Tel Aviv while six-times champions CSKA Moscow suffered a surprise 94-81 home defeat by Unicaja Malaga.
Navarro, who won European and world titles with Spain as well as the Olympic silver medal at the 2012 Games, nailed a three-pointer in the first quarter to reach his milestone as Barca ended Caja's seven-game winning streak in Europe's premier club competition.
"Being the first player to break the 3,000-point mark means a lot to me. It means I am doing great things and makes me especially proud," said the 32-year-old stalwart after ending the top-16 game with 11 points.
"Caja were coming from a very good winning streak and being able to break it says a lot about ourselves," Navarro told the competition's official website (www.euroleague.net).
American forward Pete Mickeal led Barcelona with 23 points and five rebounds.
Caja, who had registered 17 straight wins in all competitions under new coach Zan Tabak, could find no reply to Barca's quick transition from defence to attack.
Olympiakos had cruised through the preliminary group stage but got off to a sluggish start in their top-16 section and a last-gasp victory at Maccabi came as a timely relief after they lost three of their opening four games.
The Greeks threw away an 11-point halftime lead as Maccabi, who have a 1-4 record, turned the match around.
Vassilis Spanoulis then stepped up to the plate for Olympiakos and settled the rollercoaster game with a superb jump-shot to finish with a game-high 24 points.
"We didn't play well in the third quarter but in the end we were tough and we hit some big shots," said the 30-year-old playmaker who was also instrumental in the shock win against CSKA Moscow in last season's rip-roaring final in Istanbul.
CSKA slumped after a run of nine successive wins and had their trademark iron-clad defence ripped apart by a fired-up Unicaja team that buried a total of 16 three-pointers, six by unstoppable guard Marcus Williams who topped the scoring with 28 points.
The Russian champions briefly overturned a 16-point first half deficit early in the second half before Williams, who joined the Spanish outfit from Chinese side Nanjing Dragons last year, hit back with 10 unanswered points.
"It was a very important win for us because we snapped a seven-game losing streak but we always believed we could come back in this very tough period for us," Unicaja's Croatian coach Jasmin Repesa said.
"We had some special shooting practice sessions to restore our confidence, having realised that our poor run was down to a variety of different reasons such as bad luck, travel and fatigue."
Real Madrid, winners of a record eight Euroleague titles, celebrated a rugged 58-54 victory over Panathinaikos Athens in a low-scoring heavyweight clash littered with poor perimeter shooting.
Panathinaikos, who have won the title six times, led for three quarters but scored only five points in the final period and committed a total of 15 turnovers, with guard Michael Bramos their only player in double-scoring digits on 11 points.
The result left Real as the only undefeated team in their section with five wins followed by CSKA and Efes Istanbul who both have 4-1 records after the Turkish contenders beat Zalgiris Kaunas 56-52.
Italian champions Montepaschi Siena remained the only other unbeaten team in the top-16 and head the other eight-team pool after grinding out a 63-57 home victory against Besiktas Istanbul.
The top four in each group will reach the best-of-five quarter-final playoff series. The winners will then advance to the May 10-12 Final Four at London's O2 Arena.