Win or lose, some of the standout performances of Round 7 in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague featured big men making things happen for their teams.
Round 7 roll call: Frontcourt players came to the fore
Tavares got rolling for Los Blancos
Maybe it took him a few weeks to get going, but last season's Final Four MVP, three-time EuroLeague Best Defender and four-time All-EuroLeague center Walter Tavares was everywhere in Real Madrid's dominant 100-74 win over Virtus Segafredo Bologna on Thursday night. Playing a season-high 25 minutes, Tavares also had many other season highs: 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He had 1 steal, something he also achieved in Round 3 against Zalgiris Kaunas and 2 blocks, which is 1 less than he achieved in that same game against Zalgiris. The 31-year-old finished with a PIR of 28, which is more than what he had in his first four appearances of the season combined.
Hayes-Davis's perfect first half
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul forward Nigel Hayes-Davis played all but 2 seconds during a 40-minute battle against Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade, but his efforts came up just short in a dramatic 85-84 loss. Hayes-Davis had a memorable first half for a depleted Fenerbahce side, during which he scored 21 of his game-high 23 points. During the first 20 minutes, he made all 8 of his field-goal attempts and both foul shots, while he was also on the floor for every second as Fenerbahce built a double-digit lead. Partizan appeared to find a way to neutralize him after the break, however, as he only had one more field-goal attempt the rest of the way. Hayes-Davis finished the game a perfect 5-of-5 for two-pointers and 3-of-4 on three-pointers, as well as making 4-of-4 free-throw attempts. He also collected 6 points, 3 assists and 1 steal, accumulating a PIR of 35.
Willis's first double-double
Anadolu Efes Istanbul pulled out an 86-82 overtime win against Zalgiris Kaunas in Round 7 and Derek Willis found just the right time to produce the best game of his rookie season. Willis played 39 minutes and 39 seconds and not only scored 11 points, the first time he finished in double figures, but also pulled down 10 rebounds. He added 2 blocks and 1 steal to his double-double. Willis also came through in clutch, hitting back-to-back fourth-quarter triples that gave Efes a 7-point cushion, a lead it ended up squandering, but that does not take away from Willis's performance and his role in this win.
Mitrovic left everything out there for Zvezda
Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade may have lost 86-81 to FC Barcelona in Round 7, but Luka Mitrovic could certainly walk off the court with his head held high. The 30-year-old forward scored a game-high 22 points after going 8-of-15 on two-pointers and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, but he also gave Zvezda plenty of second-chance opportunities by grabbing a career-high 6 offensive rebounds. Zvezda finished the night with 18 offensive boards and 44 overall, meaning that Mitrovic was responsible for 33.3% of his team’s second-chance possessions on the offensive end. Unfortunately for Mitrovic and Zvezda, though, it ended up coming in a losing effort.
Mitoglou took control for Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos Athens welcomed back Dinos Mitoglou in the offseason and the 27-year-old has hit the ground running since making his second debut for the club in Round 4. On Friday night, Mitoglou had a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double as the Greens grabbed their first road win of the season, beating ALBA Berlin 85-99. That is the fifth double-double of Mitoglou’s 110-game EuroLeague career and his first in just under two years and 10 months, as his last double-double came on January 21, 2021, in a 94-78 win for Panathinaikos against Khimki Moscow Region. Mitoglou has now scored 20-plus points in two of his four appearances this season, having previously netted 23 in Round 5 against Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, and his play is one of the main reasons for optimism among the Greens’ supporters.