By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Double Euroleague champions Barcelona edged six-time winners Panathinaikos 80-76 after Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas underlined their precision from long-range with a flurry of accurate shots on Friday.
Barcelona nailed 12 three-pointers from 20 attempts and Huertas buried six from eight as the home side overcame an early 10-point deficit to bounce back from last week’s shock defeat at Alba Berlin.
Croatia’s 19-year old prospect Mario Hezonja also enjoyed a fine performance for the Catalan side, scoring 11 points as a stand-in for injured captain and the competition’s all-time leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro.
Panathinaikos missed a chance to turn the game their way after several costly turnovers in the last 90 seconds, allowing American forward Justin Doellman to score the final three points of the game and seal Barcelona’s victory.
There was double delight for Turkish clubs after Anadolu Efes beat Spaniards Unicaja Malaga 74-70 at home and their Istanbul arch-rivals Fenerbahce overcame Russians Nizhny Novgorod 78-60 away.
Trailing by 15 points at halftime, Efes staged a stunning comeback to secure a second successive win in the Top 16, featuring two groups of eight teams playing each other on a double round-robin basis.
“We are a hard-working team and the coach just tells us at halftime what we do best, which is defense, defense and defense,” Efes guard Dontaye Draper told www.euroleague.net.
The team’s trophy-laden Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic added: “What I told them at halftime was that if we were a car, we were in second gear and Unicaja went at full speed in the opening half.”
Guard Matt Janning led the way with 17 points for Efes, whose ironclad defending confined Unicaja to 21 points in the second half.
Fenerbahce dominated Nizhny throughout as playmaker Andrew Goudelock finished with a game-high 23 points even though he sat out the first quarter on the bench.
Serbia guard Bogdan Bogdanovic added 17 and five rebounds for the expensively assembled Turkish outfit aiming to reach the knockout stages under his compatriot Zeljko Obradovic.
“We started a bit slow but picked it up in the second half and then we did pretty well,” said Goudelock.
Lithuanians Zalgiris Kaunas, the 1999 champions, eased to a 75-62 home win over Alba Berlin after forward James Anderson produced another commanding performance with 16 points and six rebounds.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)