Euroleague Quarterfinal recap

Euroleague QuarterfinalThe Euroleague quarterfinal Playoffs tipped off this week with four series taking place between the best clubs on the continent, with the end goal of finding the Final Four that will head to Milan for the end of season showpiece.

We are now at the midway stage of the Euroleague Quarterfinal stage and so far it is one way traffic in three of the best of five series. Fenerbahce Istanbul, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, and CSKA Moscow has all raced into 2-0 leads in their respective ties. Barcelona and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar are providing the most interesting narrative so far, the clubs are tied 1-1.

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Barcelona

With home court advantage, Lokomotiv may rue a missed opportunity to head to Spain with a 2-0 lead in the best of five Euroleague Quarterfinal. The Russians started the week in good fashion, beating the former champions 66-61 to take a lead in the series. However, Barcelona roared back in Game 2 with a fine 66-92 win spurred by Juan Carlos Navarro’s 18 points, the veteran play maker rolling back the clock to drive his team.

The contest now moves to Catalonia for the next two games, giving Barca the perfect platform to wrap up the series and make the Final Four. However, Lokomotiv is known for responding under pressure, and Barcelona has been in patchy form this season. The Spaniards are now favourites, but do not discount the Krasnodar outfit just yet.

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria vs. Panathinaikos

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria are having a continental season to remember, the Spanish club powered through the Last 16 and find itself on the cusp of the Final Four and a trip to Milan next month. After winning the first tie against Greek heavyweight Panathinaikos Athens 84-68, Vitoria dug in during the second tie to claim a 2-0 series lead. It has been even more impressive considering the wins have come against Panathinaikos, a multiple former champions and a team having its own purple patch over the last few months.

The Greek giant will likely be a different proposition back in Athens when the series heads to the Greek capital next week. However, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria is now just one win away from the Final Four, although don’t rule out Panathinaikos using the home crowd to spark a series comeback.

Fenerbahce Istanbul vs. Real Madrid

After impressing with a 75-69 home win over Real Madrid in Game 1, Fenerbahce took the shackled off in Istanbul during Game 2 and blitzed the Spanish giant 100-78. The win confirmed Fenerbahce as the form team of the Euroleague this season and was further evidence that the club could be destined to go the distance this season. It will take some beating to get past the Turks, as they have shown themselves to be a class above current champs Madrid so far.

However, the series now heads back to the Spanish capital, where Los Blancos are far more comfortable and will be looking to make the series interesting. The problem is, Real Madrid has rarely impressed this season, and Fenerbahce look formidable enough to suggest the Spanish club is going to have to play better than it has all season to progress.

CSKA Moscow vs. Crvena Zvezda Belgrade

The season’s other form team, CSKA Moscow, also takes a 2-0 lead on the road this week after taking a series lead over Crvena Zvezda Belgrade. An 84-74 win in Game 1 set the Russians up and then they took a 2-0 advantage, and put a foot in the Final Four, with a 77-76 win. Moscow has looked formidable throughout, but in Game 2 was made to work hard by a Red Star team that has surprised many this season.

However, if anybody thought the Serbian champions would be happy just to be here and make up the numbers, they were wrong. Crvena Zvezda showed in Game 2 that they can mix it with CSKA and in Belgrade with 15,000 fans cheering them on, the club could be unstoppable. Certainly, the surprise package may have one or two more tricks up its sleeve yet.

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