Playoffs, Game 3: CSKA, Fenerbahce sweep into Final Four
The first two teams to clinch tickets to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four were last season's finalists! CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Istanbul completed sweeps in their respective best-of-five playoff series on Tuesday. Wednesday brings with it Game 3 in two more series, but neither game will produce a Final Four side, since both series are knotted at 1-1.
Fenerbahce Istanbul 3-0 Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens
Fenerbahce Istanbul became the first team to advance to the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four, which will be held in its own city, by completing a playoff sweep of Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens with a 79-61 victory on Tuesday at Fenerbahce Ulker Sports Arena. Fenerbahce used a balanced attack to reach its third Final Four in as many seasons. Coach Zeljko Obradovic’s side also became the first team to sweep a series in which it did not have home-court advantage as well as the first to sweep three consecutive playoff series. Bobby Dixon paced six Fenerbahce scorers in double figures with 13 points, while Ekpe Udoh tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds and Jan Vesely anchored the defense with 4 blocked shots. Fenerbahce outrebounded Panathinaikos 38-22 and held the visitors to 5-of-24 three-point shooting (20.8%), while making 13 of 27 shots from downtown (48.2%). K.C. Rivers led the Greens with 16 points.
Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 0-3 CSKA Moscow
CSKA Moscow advanced to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four by downing Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 88-90 in a thrilling Game 3 in their best-of-five series on the road on Tuesday. CSKA swept the series, advanced to the Final Four for the 14th time in 15 years and has the chance not only to win its eighth EuroLeague title, but to successfully defend its crown for the first time in club history. Baskonia had a bitter end to an otherwise fantastic EuroLeague season. Cory Higgins led the winners with 21 points and Toko Shengelia paced Baskonia with 19. The game came down to a final possession for Baskonia with a shot to tie – or win – the game, but Kyle Hines's rejection on Adam Hanga at the buzzer sealed the outcome.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 2-1 Olympiacos Piraeus
Anadolu Efes Istanbul outlasted Olympiacos Piraeus 64-60 on Wednesday at Abdi Ipekci Arena to take a 2-1 series lead. Efes hosts Game 4 on Friday knowing a win will send it to the Final Four at nearby Sinan Erdem Dome in the Turkish metropolis. Efes led by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but EuroLeague legend Vassilis Spanoulis erupted late with 3 three-pointers to bring the Reds within 61-60. Free throws by Thomas Heurtel and Tyler Honeycutt helped Efes hold on and get in position to reach its first Final Four in a decade and a half. Bryant Dunston led the winners with 16 points and 9 rebounds and Heurtel tallied 13 points and 6 assists. Efes struggled with its outside shooting and made just 2 of 18 three-pointers (11.1%) as well as only half of its 16 free throws, but committed just 5 turnovers to make up that gap. Spanoulis recorded 9 points and 3 assists in the final six minutes to lead the comeback and finished with 15 points, 7 assists and 3 steals, but also committed 7 of his team’s 17 turnovers.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 1-1 Real Madrid
Also on Wednesday in Istanbul, the Game of the Week promises an exciting showdown as Darussafaka Dogus hosts Real Madrid in another series which is all square at 1-1. Darussafaka will be riding high on confidence after pulling out a shock win in Madrid on Friday. They hosts also know that they comfortably defeated the Spanish team at Volkswagen Arena during the regular season, 81-68 in Round 12. Darussafaka out-rebounded Madrid by an average of 36.5 to 33.0 in the first two games, and in a game which is likely to be close the visiting team needs to improve its free-throw conversion rate of 65.2% from last week.
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