BELGRADE (Reuters) - Fenerbahce Istanbul stretched their perfect Euroleague start to four wins after Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic led a second-half comeback in a thrilling 88-78 win at Partizan Belgrade on Friday.
Barcelona’s strong third quarter drove them to a 79-70 home win over CSKA Moscow, holders Olympiakos Piraeus celebrated a 70-62 victory at Montepaschi Siena and last season’s finalists Real Madrid breezed to an 85-66 away rout of Strasbourg.
Partizan, carved out an eight-point lead in the first half backed by 8,000 noisy fans in their packed Pionir Arena before tempers flared early in the third quarter when their coach Dusko Vujosevic was ejected for continuously protesting.
Bogdanovic took full advantage and buried 13 of his game-high 26 points in the third period as Fenerbahce swung the tie their way and reaffirmed their commanding position in Group A.
Lester Bo McCalebb added 14 points and their Serbia forward Nemanja Bjelica chipped in with 12 to delight trophy-laden coach Zeljko Obradovic, who guided Partizan to their only Euroleague title in 1992 and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
“It’s never easy playing against my former club but that’s the nature of this business and I can only congratulate my players for winning a difficult road game,” Obradovic told reporters.
“Partizan keep punching above their weight thanks to these incredible fans and I must thank them for a fantastic reception,” said the 53-year old Serb, who has won eight titles in Europe’s premier club competition with four different clubs.
Bogdanovic told Reuters: “Everyone knows what kind of coach Obradovic is and we got going in the third quarter after he drew several set plays on the blackboard at halftime to create open shots for me.
“There is plenty of depth in our roster and we are all hopeful that we can carry our good form into the latter stages of the 24-team competition.”
Barcelona, stung by French debutants Nanterre in the last round, redeemed themselves with a spirited fightback against six-time winners CSKA, with Euroleague’s all-time leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro nailing 20 points in the Palau Blaugrana.
CSKA held a five-point advantage at halftime but Barca won the third quarter 27-14 to turn the match on its head, as Brazilian guard Marcelinho Huertas buried 16 points and Croatia center Ante Tomic added 13 to go with seven rebounds.
Maccabi Tel Aviv celebrated their first win in five meetings with Lietuvos Rytas after American guard Tyrese Rice hit a floater with three seconds remaining to give the quadruple former champions a 76-74 win in Vilnius.
Panathinaikos, winners of six titles, lost 72-69 at home to Russian newcommers Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar after Croatia guard Krunoslav Simon unleashed an audacious three-pointer on the buzzer, having missed five attempts from behind the arc.
Red Star Belgrade celebrated their first Euroleague win since the 1999/2000 season, when they last played in the continent’s top flight, after DeMarcus Nelson netted 22 points and fellow American Blake Schilb sank 18 in a surprise 73-63 success at Spaniards Laboral Kutxa Vitoria.
“It was probably my best game in Europe so far, we definitely had a good performance tonight and got a much-needed win,” Nelson said after Red Star ended their three-game losing streak in the Euroleague this season.
“We have a 1-3 record and it could have been 3-1 if it hadn’t been for simple mistakes that played a key part in some close defeats, but we have kept our chances of reaching the Top 16.”
Editing by Ken Ferris