CSKA starts VTB semis with victory
Just four days after lifting the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, CSKA Moscow was back doing business in the VTB United League on Thursday. In the best-of-five quarterfinals opener, CSKA defeated Zenit St. Petersburg 98-82 to take a 1-0 series lead. CSKA held a 49-45 halftime advantage before Othello Hunter strung together 6 points and fueled a 10-0 run that gave CSKA a 63-49 lead. the EuroLeague champions never looked back after that. Hunter led the way with 22 points and 6 rebounds, Cory Higgins scored16 points and Semen Antonov 12 in victory. Jalen Reynolds paced Zenit with 14 points and Evgeny Voronov contributed 12 in defeat. On Wednesday, UNICS Kazan rallied to down Khimki Moscow Region 96-91 and take a 1-0 lead in their series. Khimki led 64-74 after three quarters, but UNICS had an 8-0 run to start the fourth, and a 12-0 run midway through the final quarter to take the lead and snatch a victory. Raymar Morgan had 22 points and Errick McCollum netted 21 in victory. Alexey Shved scored 36 and Jannis Timma 23 in defeat.
Zalgiris advances to Lithuanian finals
Zalgiris Kaunas advanced to the Lithuanian League playoff finals after a 63-84 road win over Lietkabelis Panevezys in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinals series. Zalgiris took swept the series by assuming control of the game in the second quarter and opening a double-digit lead early in the third, before breaking the game open at the start of the fourth. Marius Grigonis paced the winners with 18 points, while Deon Thompson scored 16 and Brandon Davies collected 13 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Rytas Vilnius took a 1-0 lead in its semifinal series with a 46-75 road win over Neptunas Klaipeda. Arnas Butkevicius paced five Rytas scorers in double figures with 17 points.
Turkey: Fenerbahce, Efes win quarterfinals openers
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Anadolu Efes Istanbul had a successful start to the Turkish League playoffs by winning their respective quarterfinal series openers on their home floors. Fenerbahce bested Turk Telekom Ankara 82-72 behind 17 points from Marko Guduric. Nikola Kalinic added 15 points, Melih Mahmutoglu scored 14 and Nicolo Melli posted 8 points and 11 rebounds for the winners. Back-to-back triples from Metin Turen opened a 19-39 margin for Turk Telekom midway through the second quarter, but Melli helped Fenerbahce finish the first half on an 11-0 run to close within 35-42 at halftime. The hosts slowly but surely chiseled down the deficit in the third quarter before Guduric and Kostas Sloukas led a 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter that gave Fenerbahce a 68-60 lead, from which Turk Telekom never recovered. Vladimir Stimac led Turk Telekom with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Sylven Landesberg scored 12. Earlier Thursday game, Tofas Bursa opened the playoffs in style with a 102-76 win over Besiktas. Sammy Mejia was unstoppable with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. On Wednesday, Efes bounced back from a loss in Sunday's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game by rallying past Banvit Bandirma 81-72 to take a 1-0 lead in their quarterfinal series. Adrien Moerman paced Efes with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, while Bryant Dunston had 23 points and 8 rebounds.
Maccabi takes Game 1 in Israeli quarterfinals
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv started its Israeli League playoff quarterfinal series against crosstown rival Hapoel Tel Aviv with an 89-87 victory on Thursday at Menorah Mivtachim Arena. The reigning Israeli champs led from start to finish. DeAndre Kane paced five Maccabi scorers in double figures with 15 points, Scottie Wilbekin added 14, Tarik Black 12, Jake Cohen 11 and John DiBartolomeo 10. Maccabi took control from the start by scoring the game's first 8 points in surging ahead 18-4. Hapoel managed to stem the bleeding to get within 23-11 after 10 minutes. The lead reached 18 twice in the second quarter before Maccabi settled for a 46-34 cushion at the break. Hapoel heated up in the third quarter and Garlon Green closed the gap to 57-52, but DiBartolomeo keyed an 8-0 response and the visitors never got closer than 9 the rest of the way. Jerrel McNeal paced Hapoel with 15 points and 8 assists.
Buducnost close to the Montenegrin title
Buducnost VOLI Podogrica is a game away from winning a Montenegrin title. In Game 2 of their best-of-five series, Buducnost downed Mornar Bar 74-84 to take a 2-0 series lead. The game was tied 74-74 going into the final 3 minutes, but Edwin Jackson and Danilo Nikolic each hit a triple, and James Bell capped an 8-0 run to seal the deal. Nemanja Gordic paced the winner with 20 points, and Nikolic scored 18, while Jackson added 15. Ivan Jelenic led Mornar with 14 points.
Trento extends the series in Italy
Dolomiti Energia Trento remained alive in Italian League quarterfinals, after defeating Umana Reyer Venezia 72-59 on Thursday night. Trento cut the deficit in the best-of-five series to 2-1 and will host Game 4 on Saturday. Trento allowed only 23 points in the first half and scored 25 in a key second quarter alone. The hosts opened 38-23 halftime lead, which they only increased in the third quarter before cruising to victory as Beto Gomes and Devyn Marble scored 17 points apiece in this victory. Marquez Haynes had 15 for Venezia. In the other Thursday game, Alma Trieste held off Vanoli Cremona 91-86, also cutting a series deficit to 2-1. Zoran Dragic led Trieste with 26 points on 6-for-10 three-pointers.