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Basketball-Real, Olympiakos extend perfect Euroleague starts

Reuters

* Spanoulis inspires holders Olympiakos to victory over Fenerbahce

* Real Madrid win at Partizan before second-highest ever crowd

* Debutants Bayern stun Zalgiris, CSKA beat Krasnodar in overtime

By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Holders Olympiakos Piraeus and favourites Real Madrid moved to 11 straight Euroleague wins this season after impressive displays in the opening round of the Top 16, the second group stage of the 24-team competition.

Debutants Bayern Munich stunned Zalgiris Kaunas 84-66 away, CSKA Moscow ground out an 84-77 overtime victory at fellow Russians Lokomotiv Krasnodar and Maccabi Tel Aviv celebrated a 90-84 success at Galatasaray.

Led by Vassilis Spanoulis, who has inspired Olympiakos to successive titles, the Greek side overcame an expensively assembled Fenerbahce Istanbul outfit 95-82 after the versatile playmaker scored 28 points against the visitors on Friday.

Eight times winners Madrid brushed aside Partizan Belgrade 80-64 in front of 21,374 fans in Serbia, the second-highest Euroleague attendance ever, after former Portland Trailblazers guard Rudy Fernandez produced an effervescent performance.

Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez nailed 16 points each and centre Ioannis Bourousis sank 15 as Real extended their perfect record to 26 victories in all competitions this season.

"We have to keep improving but winning in this impressive venue will give us a confidence boost because Partizan fans are magnificent and I am sure many teams will drop points here," Fernandez told Reuters.

"We are all delighted to have extended our winning streak but it's still a bit too early to start thinking about titles.

"This is going to be a long season and it's becoming more and more like the NBA when you look at the number of games we play in all competitions. It's a major challenge to stay healthy and play hard every game."

FIRST VICTORY

Bayern swept away 1999 champions Zalgiris with long-range shooting that saw the Germans bury 10 three-pointers, with 10 of their 12 players scoring against the more heralded Lithuanians.

Having squeezed into the Top 16, featuring two pools of eight teams, Bayern can now look forward to making a real impact as they host Partizan in their next game.

"I am happy to win here in Lithuania, in basketball country," Bayern's Serb coach Svetislav Pesic, who won the 2001 European championship and 2002 world title with the former Yugoslavia, told the competition's website (www.euroleague.net)

"It is our first victory in the Top 16 but I hope not the last," he added.

Pesic's compatriot Milos Teodosic endured a poor shooting afternoon for CSKA in Krasnodar but was still the game's top scorer with 16 points as they forced Lokomotiv into submission.

Maccabi's American Ricky Hickman netted 24 points after hitting nine of 14 shots from the field to lift his side, while Euroleague all-time top scorer Juan Carlos Navarro amassed 21 for Barcelona in the 84-65 home defeat of Anadolu Efes Istanbul.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, who struggled early on in the opening group stage, continued their revival with a 93-79 win at fellow Spaniards Unicaja Malaga and Panathinaikos Athens strolled to a 73-57 victory over visitors Emporio Armani Milan. (Editing by Ken Ferris)

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