A strong fourth quarter from CSKA Moscow saw the EuroLeague’s second seed finish off seventh seed Fenerbahce on Wednesday. Eighth seed Zenit St Petersburg made a dream start to their debut in the playoffs with a win over Barcelona.
Nando De Colo starred for Fenerbahce scoring a team-high 27 points and was the only player to score double digits by the end of the first quarter. A free-throw magnet, De Colo added to his 95% free-throw percentage as the Istanbul side fought back from an opening 8-2 run by CSKA by the middle of the first quarter and forced the first lead change of the night.
CSKA’s Will Clyburn put up a fantastic display in the paint with 20 points, but it was the Moscow side’s three-point shooting that highlighted their winning performance. Daniel Hackett joined Clyburn with 20, hitting four of five from three, as Semen Antunov had 9 with three of three made from beyond the arc.
Turnovers by CSKA brought the game in the balance in the second half as Fenerbahce reduced the deficit to two at 64-66. However, the fourth quarter was key for the Russian side as with De Colo constantly double-teamed and the open men failing to hit their threes, CSKA kept their consistent shooting from distance to end Game one at 92-76.
First playoff win for Zenit
Zenit St Petersburg won their first EuroLeague playoffs game as they beat top seed Barcelona 74-76 on the road.
It was always going to be a defensive game with both teams boasting the least points conceded in the regular season but Zenit’s defense outworked Barca with the eighth seed taking the lead early on. The first half provided an opportunity for an upset from Zenit on Wednesday as former Barcelona man Kevin Pangos, who finished the game with 19 made waves.
They did just that as the third quarter showed why Barcelona are the top seed this year. Six of six in the beginning of the quarter trimmed the margin as Barca then began getting better opportunities in the paint.
An 11-3 run put Zenit under pressure and it looked like it could be a way back in for Barca. The fourth was similar, as an onslaught from Barca saw Kyle Kuric get into double digits before finishing with 12.
To make things worse, Zenit’s Arturas Gudaitis had to sit early after suffering an injury. With 2 minutes to go, Barca leveled the score through Cory Higgins, before Zenit got back into the lead with a Pangos three. Barca’s leading scorer with 18 points, Brendon Davies scored his first three of the season to level again as the final minute was as dramatic as ever.
KC Rivers kept his cool to send it home with his third triple of the game but Davies slammed before Pangos won it with a floater as Zenit take game one 72-74 on the road.