Defending EuroLeague champions CSKA Moscow will be making their sixth straight Final Four appearance with last season’s runners up Fenerbahce securing their third consecutive showing after both sides completed a clean sweep of Baskonia and Panathinaikos, respectively on Tuesday evening.
CSKA had Kyle Hines to thank as his last second rejection on Baskonia’s Adam Hanga handed the Muscovites a narrow 90-88 win in Vitoria and continued the Russian side’s impressive mark as “EuroLeague Final Four tenants”.
This will be CSKA’s sixth straight appearance in the Final Four and an even more impressive 14th outing in 15 seasons with the 2011 showpiece in Barcelona their only slip up.
“We go back-to-back in the Final Four, but this is just a ticket to the Final Four,” CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis said. “We want something more and do deserve right now to celebrate the qualification, especially with 3-0 against a great team.
“Baskonia had a great season and as I said to their coach, he did a great job over here. They have a great atmosphere, great fans and played really good, modern basketball. Let’s not forget that Baskonia made it to the Final Four last year, played overtime to go to the final and the legacy they had all these years is big. A big congratulations to Baskonia, I wish them the very best.”
Cory Higgins led the winners with 21 points, with Nando De Colo adding 15. Milos Teodosic, who was not at 100 percent for the game scored 13 in a solid showing.
“It feels great,” Higgins said. “It was one of our goals, one of our stepping stones for the season, so it is great to reach it. Our work is not done, but we accomplished one of our big goals. It has been incredibly tough. They didn’t stop fighting until the end and every game came down to the wire. We knew it was going to be a fight with them, but stuck together and came out with the W.”
Fenerbahce made it a hat-trick of Final Four appearances as they convincingly ousted Panathinaikos 79-61 to record their third straight sweep in the EuroLeague Playoffs adding to their 3-0 series wins over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2016.
Bobby Dixon paced the winners with 13 points as Fenerbahce also became the first team to sweep a series without home court advantage.
Thanks to my players for an excellent job,” said a humbled Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic. “Thanks to the fans for creating an amazing atmosphere. Their support for us is very special. And of course best luck to Panathinaikos in the Greek championship.”
KC Rivers led all scorers for Panathinaikos with 16 points but his efforts were in vain.