2008-09PlayoffsRound 3
Tiago Splitter, TAU Ceramica

Playoffs Game 3: CSKA first to Berlin, three more closing in!

CSKA Moscow became the first team to reach the 2009 Euroleague Basketball Final Four on Tuesday, but could be joined by three more teams as soon as Thursday. The reigning champs advanced to their seventh straight Final Four when CSKA defeated Partizan Belgrade 56-67 to sweep the best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series in front of 21,352 fans at Belgrade Arena. A pair of battle-tested veterans led the charge for head coach Ettore Messina as Ramunas Siskauskas and Matjaz Smodis combined for 38 points. Tau Ceramica topped Regal FC Barcelona 69-62 to move within one win of a fifth straight trip to the Final Four. Igor Rakocevic scored 15 to pace the winners. Barca struggled on offense without leading scorer Juan Carlos Navarro, who was out with a leg injury. The winner of the series will face CSKA in the semifinals. Real Madrid stung Olympiacos 71-63 for its first win in that series. Louis Bullock and Felipe Reyes shined for the Whites, who will look to even that series when they host Game 4 in the Spanish capital on Thursday.Panathinaikos routed Montepaschi Siena 53-72 to improve to 2-1. The Greens dominated the glass 27-46 and never led by less than 13 after a 0-14 second-quarter run put them in charge. Vassilis Spanoulis and Drew Nicholas scored 13 each to pace the winners. The action on Thursday in Madrid, Vitoria and Siena could send three more teams to the o2 Arena in Berlin for the Final Four taking place on May 1-3 or set up deciding fifth games next week. The excitement will be at its peak Thursday as the Euroleague season draws to an exciting finish.