Laboral Kutxa and Fenerbahce swept Panathinaikos and Real Madrid respectively to advance to this year’s Euroleague Final Four in Berlin.
And while Fenerbahce ended the reign of the current Euroleague holders, Laboral Kutxa’s 84-75 victory over Panathinaikos not only signalled their first Final Four since 2008, but ended the Euroleague career of Dimitris Diamantidis.
The retiring guard ends his Euroleague career as the all-time leader in assists and steals as well as finishing with 2,495 career points, one behind his former team-mate Mike Batiste, for sixth place.
But as Diamantis waves goodbye to his stellar Euroleague career, Laboral Kutxa march on to the German capital in mid-May as Darius Adams scored 14 of his 24 points in the last quarter to lead the victors.
“We had to win and not play another game here,” said Adams. “I was on fire and had 14 points in the last quarter but I have to thank my teammates who helped me and kept believing to me. I have missed some shots but they created space and continued to give me the ball and encourage me to shoot.
“The whole team deserves the credit and the congratulations for this success. Now we have to work hard and be ready to play the Final Four in Berlin. One game at a time is the key point. The only thing we can promise is that we will give our best there.”
Another team highly deserving of success is Fenerbahce, who without talisman Jan Vesely still managed to sweep the reigning champions Real Madrid after a 75-63 closeout win in the Spanish capital.
For Real, despite progressing to the Playoffs, this has been a Euroleague season to forget. Regarded as favourites at the start of the season, they advanced by the skin of their teeth in the regular season and then the Top 16, but there was no way that they would make it a hat-trick of escapes as the Turkish side were simply too strong, too deep and just too good.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led five Fenerbahce players in double figures with 17 points in the win.
“I am very happy,” said Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic, who masterminded one of the best team displays in the Euroleague this season.
“We played three great games. Before the last one I said to my players that we must view the third game as a final, even if we were 2-0 over Real Madrid. In the first half both teams played very nervous. Real Madrid did not score three-point shots as they are used to. We played good defence as we did in Istanbul.”
One series that hasn’t been settled just yet will go to game three on Thursday after Barcelona took a 2-1 series lead over Lokomotiv Kuban thanks to an 82-70 win at the Palau Blaugrana.
Alex Abrines hit six three-pointers, en route to a career-high 25 points for the Catalan side as they aim for their first Euroleague Final Four appearance since 2013.