|Renaldas Seibutis was the star for Lietuvos Rytas, sinking the game winner from the top of the key in overtime|
Lithuanian international Renaldas Seibutis and Russian international Sasha Kaun came up with big performances on Thursday night to help their respective teams win close games on the opening day of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
The most dramatic encounter took place in Vilnius and Seibutis hit a mid-range jump shot five seconds before the end of overtime for Lietuvos Rytas to edge out six-time champions Panathinaikos 84-83.
The 28-year-old winger had made an identical jumper with just over a minute remaining in the extra period to bring the Vilnius side ahead 82-81, but Panathinaikos regained the lead on the following possession from a James Gist put-back dunk.
Seibutis led all scorers with 19 points on four-for-four from behind the three-point line.
"Renaldas played very well," Lietuvos Rytas head coach Dirk Bauermann said.
"He had plenty of minutes with the Lithuanian national team [at EuroBasket 2013] and has gained confidence.
"We are very lucky to have him, he is a good player on both defence and offence."
A former Lithuanian international meanwhile, veteran big man Darius Songaila, also played a key role in the Vilnius team's victory as he finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Fellow Lithuanian Jonas Maciulis, who just like Seibutis conquered the silver medal earlier this year at EuroBasket with the national team, was the top performer for Panathinaikos with 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists in a losing effort.
Over in France, Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow found themselves trailing Euroleague débutantes JSF Nanterre by 12 points during the second quarter of their encounter.
But CSKA center Sasha Kaun scored six points in quick succession, in a sequence that included a tip-in, a dunk and a lay-up in transition on a Milos Teodosic assist, ensuring Nanterre's momentum was over.
The French champions still led 35-28 at half-time but CSKA outscored their hosts 22-13 in the third-quarter to take the advantage and they never let go until the end.
Kaun collected a game-high 16 points on seven-for-eight shooting from the floor, nine rebounds and also blocked two shots.
Turkish sides Fenerbahce Ulker and Anadolu Efes claimed the two most impressive wins on Thursday night.
Efes picked up a 20-point triumph, 87-67, over EA7 Emporio Armani Milano in Istanbul, behind a stellar performance by Dusko Savanovic.
The Serbian power forward scored a game-high 22 points and added three rebounds and four assists for Efes, while Greek winger Kostas Vasileiadis chipped in with 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.
The new-look Fenerbahce meanwhile used a huge fourth quarter to prevail 102-84 over Budivelnik Kiev on the road.
Turkish international Emir Preldzic delivered one of the most well-rounded performances anywhere on the opening day of action, with 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists while the pleasant surprise for Fener was the 12-point display by 23-year-old guard, Melih Mahmutoglu in his first ever game in the Euroleague.
The best performance anywhere in the Euroleague on Thursday came from Italy's Daniel Hackett, who registered an efficiency rating of 30.
The Montepaschi Siena point guard had 26 points on 11-for-14 from the floor, five rebounds and thee assists, but his showing was not enough to prevent the Italian champions' 84-75 loss to Galatasaray Liv Hospital at home.
Serbian forward Zoran Erceg collected a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds for Galatasaray, who were led by Carlos Arroyo's 21 points.