Fenerbahce were no match for CSKA Moscow on Wednesday as the Russians became the first side to progress into the semi-finals of the EuroLeague playoffs.
Barcelona proved too strong for Zenit St. Petersburg as the latter lost their first-ever home playoff game. Bayern Munich celebrated the opposite as they won their first-ever Playoffs game in their history against Olimpia Milano.
Fenerbahce couldn’t have had a better start to the game as they went on a 12-0 run, keeping CSKA away until Will Clyburn scored a three to open his side’s account after five minutes of play. But this was the only highlight for the Istanbul side as CSKA then went on a 11-2 run themselves in the second quarter with Fenerbahce turning the ball over too much. With around a minute to go till the half, CSKA then took the lead to end the half at 39-44.
The second half became a nightmare for Erdem Can’s Fenerbahce as Jan Vesely, who had been one of the better performers ended up fouling out in the third quarter in the midst of two technical fouls and, for him, three fouls in the space of seven minutes.
Clyburn, who scored a career-high of 34 points by the end of the night was trouble for his opponents on both sides of the court and punished Fenerbahce as CSKA took a 26-point lead, the biggest in the game, until despite their efforts, Fenerbahce conceded to a 68-85 loss and an early end to their playoff experience this season.
In St. Petersburg, Brandon Davies scored 22 points for Barca to take a second win in a row against Zenit with a second half which brought out the experience of the top seed.
Zenit got the first points 4.5 minutes into a 6-0 Barca run to start the game. At that point, the Russian side looked confused as Barca’s defensive plan looked clear – Stop Kevin Pangos. However, as the game progressed, Zenit had other plans as Alex Poythress took over with the side making good offensive adjustments.
Unlike Davies, who has been a standout performance throughout the entire series, Barca’s Nikola Mirotic has struggled so far despite ending the night with 11 points.
The game was closer than ever at the start of the final quarter but with Zenit under pressure, a Pangos injury put the side into a tense spot. To make matters worse, Poythress fouled out with Barca taking an eight-point lead to take the game 70-78.
First Germans to win a playoff game
Bayern Munich won their first-ever playoffs game on Wednesday after they managed to keep Olimpia Milano at bay for the majority of the game and take an 85-79 win.
Bayern made a strong opening statement as they went on a 12-0 run before restricting Milan to just nine points in the quarter and going up to 23 points.
Defense was the key for Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri as it paid off throughout the half. However, a second quarter rush by Milan ended the half with a four-point margin in favour of Bayern.
Asked during the break about the way back into the game, Milan’s Shavon Shields credited his side’s fight and was confident of the second half being their time to win the game.
Bayern’s Jalen Reynolds sounded his enthusiasm as the side was clicking together.
“Personally, everybody was on the same page (in the first half) and hopefully we can stay that way until the end,” Reynolds said.
While the team effort was crucial for the side, it was Vladimir Lucic who had the hot hand as he ended the night with 25 points, taking Bayern up to an 18-point lead at one point.
The fourth quarter was a series of one-ups for the sides as Wade Baldwin ended fouling out early on and Milan ate into their deficit.
Lucic showed his happiness after the game saying his side ‘didn’t deserve to lose’.
“We didn’t give up and the energy was there. When we play like that, we’re hard to beat,” Lucic said.