CSKA punch second 2015 Final Four ticket, Euroleague QF round up

CSKA Moscow produced a defensive masterpiece in routing Panathinaikos 74-55 Wednesday at Olympic Sports Center Athens to win their best-of-five playoffs series 3-1 and take a spot at the 2015 Euroleague Final Four.

Nando De Colo led all scorers with 18 points, while Andrei Kirilenko added 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Kyle Hines scored 12 and Sonny Weems 11 for the winners.

Nikos Pappas paced Panathinaikos with 11 points, Loukas Mavrokefalidis and James Gist added 10 each and Dimitris Diamantidis tallied nine points and five assists in defeat.

“I think we got the message in Game three when Panathinaikos really came out hard in the second quarter, tied the game, and then in the third quarter came out with high intensity,” said CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis.

“They had really good ball movement and made a lot of shots. We did not give them that opportunity today. I think that 55 points we allowed today in their home, with such great atmosphere, speaks that we are also a good defensive team.”

The Russian giants went on to limit Panathinaikos to 12 points or less in three quarters in a game where they never trailed after the third minute.

Andrei Kirilenko, who is now finding his form since his move back to CSKA from the NBA dominated early to give his side a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

James Gist helped Panathinaikos get back within three in the second quarter, which ended at 32-37. A Nikos Pappas triple made it 41-45 in the third quarter, but a 0-13 CSKA run essentially put the game out of reach and CSKA marched towards the victory and a ticket to Madrid.

“I don’t know if CSKA is a better team than Panathinaikos, but at the end of the day they beat us and usually the better teams wins,” Gist admitted afterwards.

“Unfortunately, we played two very bad games in Moscow and we allowed them to build the 2-0 deficit. We improved our game here and managed to beat them once, but tonight was very tough.”

Euroleague.net contributed to this report.