CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos to square off in championship game
CSKA Moscow survived one of the greatest semifinal games in Euroleague history to edge mighty Panathinaikos 66-64 in the opener of the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four at Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul. The game went down to the wire and the Greens had a chance to tie it – or win it – on the last possession, but CSKA’s rock-solid defense denied the Greek champs even a shot. Now CSKA will get a chance to play for its sixth Euroleague title in the final game on Sunday against the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between FC Barcelona Regal and Olympiacos Piraeus. Panathinaikos simply dominated early and led by double figures for most of the first quarter, which ended at 15-29. However a record-setting defensive effort by CSKA carried the Russian champs back to tie it before Mike Batiste put Panathinaikos ahead 32-34 at halftime. CSKA took its first lead early in the third quarter and what ensued from then on was a basketball classic for the ages. Andrei Kirilenko led the winners with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Alexey Shved added 15 points – including several clutch fourth-quarter scores – and Milos Teodosic, who nailed the go-ahead bucket with 38.1 seconds to go, scored 12. Sarunas Jasikevicius paced Panathinaikos with a season-high 19 points, but lost for the first time in his fifth Final Four. Batiste added 11 points, Dimitris Diamantidis tallied 10 plus 6 assists and Kostas Kaimakoglou posted 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in defeat.
Olympiacos Piraeus will play for its second Euroleague crown on Sunday after outlasting FC Barcelona Regal 68-64 in another thrilling semifinal showdown at the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four at Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Arena on Friday. Vassilis Spanoulis starred for Coach Ivkovic’s squad with 21 points and 6 assists – the last of which to Joey Dorsey put the Reds up two possessions with 16.1 seconds to go and paved the way to victory. Olympiacos led for much of the contest, but Barcelona never fell too far behind and was always in the thick of the hunt. But in the end Olympiacos got the job done at both ends and pulled out a tough win to get back to the title game for the second time in three years. Georgios Printezis added 14 points for the winners. Juan Carlos Navarro paced Barcelona with 18 points and Boni Ndong had 10 in defeat. Barcelona was hindered by poor three-point shooting – 3 of 19 (15.8%) – which cancelled out its 33-43 rebounding edge. Olympiacos made 9 of 20 from downtown (45%).