Efes Pilsen got the Top 16 off to exciting fashion in Group D by beating defending Euroleague Basketball champion Panathinaikos 74-64 on Wednesday night at the Abdi Ipecki Sports Hall in Istanbul, Turkey. Drew Nicholas scored 23 of his 29 points – equaling his career-best – in the first half as Efes took a 46-35 halftime lead and the hosts only added to that in the second half. [...]
Mike Batiste and Sarunas Jasikevicius led Panathinaikos with 12 points apiece and Vassilis Spanoulis added 10. The Greens led 8-16 early, but Nicholas fired in three consecutive three-pointers to get Efes back.
(Updated 3/2) In this video, you'll see Drew Nicholas (#4 in blue) scoring at will, and Sarunas Jasikevicius (#19 in white) scoring a few as well:
Drew Nicholas gave this interview after the big win (which the Terrapin Nation blog alerted me to).
Efes lost their next game in OT, despite 12 points and 7 rebounds from Nicholas. Panathinaikos won their next game, though Sarunas scored only 4 points on back-to-back jumpers at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. The two teams are now tied for 2nd place in Group D. Drew Nicholas is making news this week, as he and other American players are refusing to travel to Serbia for their next scheduled game because of security concerns over anti-American sentiment resulting from Kosovo's recently declared independence.
Meanwhile over in Group F, Terence Morris (1997-2001) and Maccabi Elite (of Tel Aviv, Israel) are also in a 2nd place tie, with a 1-1 record. They won their first game, as Morris scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. But Maccabi lost their second game, with Morris getting 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks.