MADRID (Euroleague) - The home teams prevailed on the opening night of the Euroleague quarter-finals with Real Madrid, Regal Barcelona and Caja Laboral winning close games and Olympiacos destroying Montepaschi Siena.
In Madrid's Caja Magica, a 20-year-old making a strong case to be included in Spain's EuroBasket squad, Nikola Mirotic, rescued Real with crucial late jumpers in a 71-65 victory over Power Electronics Valencia.
Behind 65-64 after a Nando De Colo jumper for Valencia, Mirotic hit a tough shot to put the hosts on top.
De Colo, who had a game-high 15 points, was off target with a jumper and Mirotic went to the other end and drilled a three-pointer from the left corner in front of the Valencia bench for a 69-65 lead just 19 seconds from the end.
After a timeout, De Colo attempted a fade-away jumper on the baseline but wasn't close and Valencia fouled Madrid's Pablo Prigioni, who added two more free-throws for the 71-65 final.
Mirotic scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
"It's been a very physical game where Valencia played a very good defense," Mirotic said to FIBA.com.
"We didn't make our shots in the first half. With the defensive rebounds we have taken, we were able to improve our offense.
"We leave with good feelings. We know Valencia is a tough rival and we cannot relax for one minute.
"We have to prepare for Thursday's game."
The triumph was the most important for Madrid since the unexpected resignation of coach Ettore Messina, the man who felt Mirotic was ready to become a major factor earlier this year.
Messina’s faith in Mirotic led to Jorge Garbajosa losing his place in the squad.
The Italian coach decided to leave Madrid after the team was blown out in their last Top 16 home game against Montepaschi Siena.
His departure left Madrid in a crisis but the players have responded and Tuesday's success was their biggest win in the Emanuele Molin era.
"We are all happy with the coach, just as we were with Ettore," Mirotic said. "We are united and with a lot of willingness to win. We hope we will get many more victories.
"We need the fans to support us as they did today.
"We have proved that we are capable and that we have taken a step forward."
Madrid dominated the boards in this game.
Valencia, coached by Svetislav Pesic, were out-rebounded 42-26.
Felipe Reyes had a game-high nine boards to go with his 10 points for Madrid.
Twenty-one of the Madrid rebounds game on the offensive glass.
De Colo told FIBA.com: "We had a good defense tonight but just need to focus on the rebounds.
"Sometimes they came with three guys for the rebound so we must stay focused and box out our opponent."
What did Pesic tell De Colo and his teammates?
De Colo said: "The coach said, 'Just control the rebounds because we know we can win here. We have one more game. It will be difficult. Now we must continue our defense, play our game on offense and control the rebounds.'"
Valencia shot just 12 of 20 from the free-throw line.
Serhiy Lishchuk struggled, hitting two of seven from the stripe in the first half and four of nine in the game.
Point guard Omar Cook had eight assists and two steals and also provided many of the passes that led to the Valencia players getting free-throws.
Barcelona scraped an 83-82 home triumph over Panathinaikos, who lost despite getting a game-high 26 points from Dimitris Diamantidis.
The Catalans had an 82-77 lead but Diamantidis buried a three-ball and after Jaka Lakovic split a pair of free-throws for the hosts, Barca's Victor Sada was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Diamantidis with 1.7 seconds to go.
The Greek made both free-throws and Panathinaikos retained possession, but Diamantidis missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer.
Caja Laboral won 76-70 over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The Israeli club, trailing 46-32 at half-time, reeled off the first eight points of the third quarter to get back into the game but Caja Laboral held on for victory.
Stanko Barac had 17 points, David Logan 14, Fernando San Emeterio 13 and Mirza Teletovic 13 for Caja Laboral.
Richard Hendrix had 16 points and 16 rebounds - both season highs - in defeat.
In one of the more remarkable games in the history of the Euroleague, a beleaguered Montepaschi scored just four points in the first quarter and five in the second to trail Olympiacos 47-9 at half-time.
Dusan Ivkovic's team ended up cruising to an 89-41 win.
"They really beat us, dominated on the court from the first second," Montepaschi Siena's Shaun Stonerook said.
"I have never been beaten like that in my life. This was as bad as it gets.
"We knew that we were done by half-time and tried to get ready for the next game in the second half."
A shell-shocked Siena coach Simone Pianigiani added: "This was a nightmare. We were not ready for such a crucial game.
"Now, we have to bounce back and get ready for the next game."
Olympiacos out-rebounded Siena 55-32 and were led by Greece international Ioannis Bourousis who had 12 boards to go with his 14 points.