Euroleague Play-offs, Anadolu Efes extends Real Madrid series

Euroleague Play-offsAfter Round 3 of the Euroleague Play-offs, only Fenerbahce has progressed to the Final Four after sweeping reigning champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. Real Madrid had the chance to join the Turkish giant in the showpiece (the Final Four is held in Madrid this season), but the Spanish giant missed its chance as Anadolu Efes Istanbul picked up a series saving win at home.

Barcelona and Olympiacos clashed in the Greek city of Piraeus with their series tied 1-1 after two games in Spain. Home club Olympiacos wrestled the initiative with a home win and will now have home court advantage as it seeks to close the series on Wednesday.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul vs. Real Madrid, 75-72
After looking good while amassing a 2-0 lead in the series in Spain, Real Madrid would have felt confident of wrapping a sweep to progress to the Final Four tonight. However, Anadolu Efes, in just its second Euroleague Play-offs in a decade has showed plenty of fight this season, and the Turkish club edged this game to keep the series alive. Indeed, with Game 4 also taking place in Istanbul, Efes have a real chance of tying proceedings.

Madrid Started on the right foot and gathered a 15-20 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was not to last thought as the hosts woke up to win the second 17-10 to make it 32-30 through the long break. In the third act the Istanbul contingent continued its momentum to win the stanza 24-16, and after 30 minutes the home club led well at 56-46. Los Blancos rallied in the fourth quarter and really scared the Efes faithful, but eventually the hosts held on for the victory.

Matt Janning nailed 21 points for Efes, while Stephane Lasme added 15 points and Dario Saric was a beast off the glass with 15 rebounds.

Sergio Rodriguez kept Madrid ticking with 17 points, followed by Sergio Llull with 15 points and Rudy Fernandez with 12 points.

Olympiacos Piraeus vs. FC Barcelona, 73-71
After tying the series 1-1 in Catalonia on the weekend, Olympiacos would have known it had wrestled the advantage with the series heading to Greece for Game 3 and 4. And so it proved with a win for the Greek giant, but Barcelona pushed the Piraeus based club all the way. Olympiacos can now claim a spot in the Final Four on Wednesday with a win on its home floor.

Olympiacos started on fire and went big at the bucket by draining 26 points in the first quarter, but Barcelona kept within touching distance with 23 points. In the second period the hosts continued to score the most points, and an 18-13 run was enough for a 44-36 lead as the midway buzzer sounded. Barcelona retook the tie by winning the third quarter 15-24, enough to turn the game around and make it 59-60 at the final split. The teams traded the lead and baskets in a thrilling final act, but Olympiacos held on to claim the win.

Georgios Printezis topped the winning effort with 19 points and Vassilis Spanoulis led the attack with 15 points and 8 assists.

Juan Carlos Navarro is having a good Euroleague Play-offs and the veteran continued to roll back the years with 14 points to lead Barca. Tomas Satoransky helped with 12 points, while Maciej Lampe and Justin Doellman grabbed 10 apiece.

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