Playoffs Game 2: CSKA and Olympiacos stay perfect, Montepaschi, Barcelona even it up!
After a wild Thursday full of exciting action in four jam-packed arenas, Game 2 left the Quarterfinal Playoffs split down the middle with two series tied 1-1 and the other two dominated by home teams that are now one victory away from the Final Four. Half of the story on Thursday was how two teams climbed back into their best-of-five series with Game 2 victories. The big winner was without doubtMontepaschi, a comeback 79-84 road winner over Panathinaikos in Athens to even their series at 1-1 as it heads back to Siena, Italy next Tuesday and Thursday. Montepaschi trailed by 6 entering the final quarter, before the backcourt duo of Rimantas Kaukenas and Terrell McIntyre, who combined for 46 points total, sparked a 9-0 turnaround run that led to victory. Montepaschi also welcomed back injured star Ksistof Lavrinovic, who didn't miss a shot while leading the visitors in rebounds, steals and blocks. Another team that turned its series around was Regal FC Barcelona, which blew out Tau Ceramica 85-62 to end what had been a seven-game losing streak to the visitors in Spanish competition. Another player recovering from injury, Jaka Lakovic, led Barcelona's scorers with 17 points, while big men Fran Vazquez and Ersan Ilyasova had double-doubles to help Barcelona to a 41-28 rebounding advantage. Their series goes to Vitoria next week tied 1-1. The other half of Thursday's story was 2-0 starts at home for two other teams. Olympiacos squeezed out a 79-73 victory over Real Madrid to inch within its first Final Four qualification in 10 years. Great smarts and effort down the stretch made the difference in what was a one-point game with 3 minutes left. Lynn Greer was Mr. Steady for the Reds, with 21 points, while Georgios Printezis poured in 18, Nikola Vujcic 14. And last, but far from least, CSKA Moscow destroyed visiting Partizan 77-50 with a defensive basketball clinic that would point to a sweep in that series, if both teams weren't headed to play before 22,000 fans in Belgrade next Tuesday. Nonetheless, CSKA was masterful in Game 2 as Erazem Lorbek poured in 21 points and pulled 7 rebounds, while the inpenetrable defense of the champs did the rest. Another victory would put CSKA in its seventh consecutive Final Four, extending the record it already owns this decade. Game 3 is coming on Tuesday to Siena, Vitoria, Madrid and Belgrade, although it will take home-team victories in the latter two cities to guarantee Game 4 in the same arenas on Thursday.