Anadolu Efes beat Milan as CSKA sink Olympiakos
BELGRADE - Reuters
AA photoSix-time Euroleague winners CSKA Moscow secured home-court advantage in the playoffs as Anadolu Efes Istanbul stayed in the hunt for a knockout stage berth after hard-fought wins over their respective rivals on April 3.
CSKA dug deep to beat triple former winners Olympiakos 76-70 while Anadolu Efes produced an excellent second half performance in their 86-78 home defeat of Emporio Armani Milan.
CSKA's win ensured a top-two finish in Group F ahead of the last round of the second group stage and an extra home game should their best-of-five quarter-final against Group E opposition go to a tie-breaker.
The Russian side top their section with an 11-2 record, ahead of Fenerbahçe Istanbul (10-3) and Olympiakos (9-4) who had also advanced with games to spare.
The fourth and final slot in that section will be claimed by either Anadolu Efes or Spaniards Kutxa Laboral Vitoria, who are tied on six wins and seven defeats each.
Should they finish level after the last round of matches in the Top 16, featuring two groups of eight, Anadolu Efes will advance because of a better head-to-head record.
The prolonged absence of injured playmaker Vassilis Spanoulis continued to hurt Olympiakos as they slipped to their third defeat in the last four games.
They held firm for long spells in Moscow but CSKA's deep roster eventually made the difference as former NBA forward Sonny Weems and Sasha Kaun scored 16 points each while Serbia playmaker Milos Teodosic added 14 and seven assists.
"We played well today, pretty good defence and you have to give Olympiakos credit because they played hard despite sorely missing Spanoulis," Kaun told Euroleague television.
"It is great to have secured home-court advantage with a match to spare in the Top 16 and I have to congratulate my players for their effort," said CSKA's Greek coach Dimitris Itoudis.
French guard Thomas Heurtel nailed 26 points for Anadolu Efes and 31-year-old Serbia centre Nenad Krstic poured in 22 as the Turkish side overcame a six-point halftime deficit.
But their progress depends on the outcome of next week's visit to city rivals Fenerbahçe and Laboral Kutxa's game at fellow Spaniards Unicaja Malaga.
Anadolu Efes hold a slim head-to-head advantage, having beaten Laboral 72-67 in Istanbul before an 87-84 home setback.
In Group E, Real Madrid and Barcelona have booked playoff spots and a top-two finish while the remaining two places are still up for grabs.
The quarter-final winners will advance to the May 15-17 Final Four in Madrid.