Playoffs Game 2: Fenerbahce, CSKA one win from Final Four
Two recent perennials in the Final Four are each one victory away from taking a fast train to Belgrade this year after Game 2 home wins in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs. On Thursday, CSKA Moscow followed Sergio Rodriguez to a 89-84 win over Khimki Moscow Region for a commanding 2-0 series lead. That same night, Real Madrid beat host Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 82-89 to even their series at 1-1. On Friday, defending champ Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul struck first, outlasting KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 95-89 to also go 2-0 as Brad Wanamaker starred late. And finally, Olympiacos Piraeus rebounded to even its series with Zalgiris Kaunas at 1-1 thanks to a 79-68 victory behind 21 points from Jamel McLean. All four series are back next Tuesday and Wednesday for Game 3.
CSKA Moscow 89-84 Khimki Moscow Region (2-0)
CSKA took a commanding 2-0 lead over crosstown rival Khimki with an 89-84 win on Thursday night at Megasport Arena. Sergio Rodriguez dominated for the shorthanded hosts with a career-high 26 points plus 10 assists. Khimki led at halftime and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 2, but Cory Higgins led an 11-2 CSKA run that gave it the game's first double-digit lead. Even though Khimki railed late through Anthony Gill, Higgins iced the game with free throws. Higgins finished with 19 points for the Russian champs, who were without injured stars Nando De Colo and Kyle Hines. Gill tied his career high with 24 points for Khimki, but league-leading scorer Alexey Shved was held to a season-low 12 points on 2-of-9 three-point shooting.
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 82-89 Real Madrid (1-1)
Real Madrid bounced back from a Game 1 loss by edging Panathinaikos 82-89 in the Greek capital on Thursday. The Greens led 40-36 at halftime before Felipe Reyes and Jaycee Carroll took over for Madrid, leading a 0-7 run that tied the game. Trey Thompkins also stepped up as Madrid grabbed a 61-68 margin after three quarters. Panathinaikos tied the game at 68-68, but Thompkins and Rudy Fernandez rescued Madrid and free throws by Luka Doncic sealed the outcome. Madrid made 11 of 20 three-pointers (55%) and outrebounded the hosts 24-43. Reyes led the winners with 18 points and Carroll added 17, both off the bench.Mike James paced Panathinaikos with 20 points.
Olympiacos Piraeus 79-68 Zalgiris Kaunas (1-1)
Olympiacos Piraeus reignited its Final Four challenge by overcoming Zalgiris Kaunas 79-68 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Friday, tying the series at 1-1 ahead of next week's meetings in Lithuania. The key was a 17-2 spurt from Olympiacos to bridge the first and second quarters, and although Zalgiris fought back to tie twice, a strong start to the final quarter took the Reds to the finish line. Jamel McLean led the scoring with 21 points, while Vassilis Spanoulis netted 17. Zalgiris was paced by 20 points from Brandon Davies, while Vasilije Micic combined 13 points and 8 assists. But the visiting team was forced into 15 turnovers and was allowed to attempt just 11 three-pointers by the smothering Olympiacos defense.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul 95-89 KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz (2-0)
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul, the reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions, earned a hard-fought 95-89 win over KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz in Game 2 of their playoff series on Friday. Fenerbahce assumed a 2-0 lead as the series now moves to Vitoria for Game 3 on Tuesday. It was the 11th consecutive playoffs win for Fenerbahce, but the champs had to dig deep to get it. Fenerbahce led for most of the game, though never by double-digits, and Baskonia never gave up. Fenerbahce had more weapons and all the answers on offense in the end. The hosts made 23 of 34 (67.7%) two-point shots, setting their club playoff record. Brad Wanamaker led the way with 19 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. Jan Vesely had 16 points and 6 rebounds, Nikola Kalinic scored 9 of his 11 points in the third quarter. Matt Janning netted 17 points and Vincent Poirier had 14 points plus 7 rebounds for Baskonia.