After leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to back-to-back Euroleague titles followed by a runner-up spot last year, coach Pini Gershon got off to a winning start in this year's campaign with his new team, Olympiacos Piraeus of Greece, which defeated Tau Vitoria 97-78 at home last night.
Olympiacos was led by 25 points and 13 rebounds from Alex Acker, the guard whom Maccabi accused Gershon of snatching from the team. The Greeks also got 19 points from Henry Domercant, 18 points and 7 assists from Andrija Zizic, and 10 points and 7 boards from Ryan Stack.
"It's a big win," Gershon said. "However, I believe we can play even better. We played good defense and forced Tau to just 40 percent from the field. We went for the offensive rebounds, and finally beat one of the best teams in Europe."
In other Euroleague action, Olympiacos' crosstown rival, led by Gershon's nemesis Zeljko Obradovic, rallied from 24 points down in the first half to defeat Joventut Badalona 82-79 in Spain. Panathinaikos took its first lead, 76-75, on a three-pointer by Dimitris Diamantidis with only 1:20 left, after having trailed late in the first half 48-24. Diamantidis then stole the ball and hit a key free throw down the stretch to help seal the victory. Mike Batiste led the winners with 23 points, while Diamantidis added 17.
CSKA Moscow began defense of its title with a 74-64 road win over Napoli. Trajan Langdon led the winners with 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting, Theo Papaloukas added 14, Aleksey Savrasenko had 12, and Matjaz Smodis scored 10 points. Napoli's Tierre Brown led all scorers with 24 points.
Barcelona battled to a 72-66 win at Pau Orthez. Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with 23 points, while Jordi Trias posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Elsewhere, Lottomatica Roma downed Partizan Belgrade 65-60, and Aris beat Fenerbahce 66-58.
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