After winning their Round-1 play-off matches on Tuesday at home, CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul also scored repeat victories in their Round-2 games played once again on their home turfs on Thursday. In the best-of-five play-off series, the lead of 2-0 has given a vitally important edge to these two teams. In the history of the Turkish Airlines Euro-league playoffs, no team has ever recovered from the 0-2 deficit because that amounts to winners losing the next three games in a row. At this juncture, it is a tall order but one never knows because teams’ performances on the day of the match dictate victory and defeat. There is always a possibility of new history that can be created. In Thursday’s first Round-2 match, CSKA Moscow simply outplayed Panathinaikos Athens 100-80 at Moscow and they stand on the verge of their 12th Final-Four entry in the last 13 years. In the other match on Thursday at Ulker Arena in Istanbul, Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul played much better than in the Round-1 game and handed another defeat to defending champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 82-67. Fenerbahce’s performances in the Round-of-16 was exemplary this season and now they are within one win from their first ever entry into the Final-Four.
CSKA Moscow continued with their dominating play in Round-2 as they scored another victory over the Greek Club Panathinaikos Athens in the Russian capital on Thursday night. CSKA’s 2-0 advantage has pushed Panathinaikos to a do-or-die Round-3 game in Athens on April 20, 2015. Egged on by the enthusiastic home fans, CSKA scored relentlessly to lead in every quarter. All CSKA stars came with contributions with Sonny Weems leading with 20 points and Andrei Kirilenko and Nando De Colo scoring 16 each. CSKA also set a play-off assists record of 28 and the Milos Teodosic recorded 8 assists. As the game began, Panathinaikos made a great start through Vasilis Charalampopoulos and Vlantimir Giankovits putting the Greek Club 14-8 ahead but CSKA players were soon back to erase that lead and moved ahead. Kirilenko struck three times from long distance in a 15-0 run, which also included a three-pointer from Nando De Colo. In the second quarter too, CSKA players found the basket from beyond the arc and by the time the first half ended, they had converted 6 out of 11 three-point shooting. The score at half time was 47-35. The story was the same in the second half as well. It was a great team effort from CSKA, in which contributions to score came from everyone and the home team ended the third quarter at 72-54. Recovery for Panathinaikos became difficult in the last quarter and CSKA emerged winner at 100-80. For Panathinaikos, Vasilis Charalampopoulos scored 14 points, Antonis Fotsis added 12 and Giankovits and Esteban Batista 10 each.
In the second game of the day, Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul scored an impressive 82-67 win over defending champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and made it 2-0 in the best-of-five series. This has made the defense of title quite difficult for Maccabi, when they host Fenerbahce at Tel Aviv on Monday next. Fenerbahce began with an early struggle but mounted a big first quarter lead of 30-14 that made the final difference. Though the second quarter scores were level at 20-20 and Maccabi won the third quarter 19-18 and leveled again in the fourth with 14-14, the huge first quarter advantage saw Fenerbahce through. Fenerbahce started at 9-2 and kept extending the difference thereafter. The home team led 50-34 at halftime and never allowed Maccabi to close in. Andrew Goudelock was the lead scorer for Fenerbahce with 19 points, of which 17 came in the first half alone. Other major contributors to Fenerbahce’s victory were; Semih Erden with 12 and Bogdan Bogdanovic with 11. For the visitors, Jeremy Pargo scored 16 points.
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