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EUROLEAGUE > Barcelona one win away from first ticket to Istanbul

KAZAN, Russia

Regal Barcelona may be the first Turkish Airlines Euroleague team to book its ticket to Istanbul as the Catalans stand just a win away from qualifying for the Final Four when it visits Unics tonight

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Regal FC Barcelona’s Senegalese center Boniface Ndong (L) vies with UnicsKazan’s US guard Lynn Greer (R) during the two teams’ Turkish Airlines Euroleague match. AFP photo

Regal FC Barcelona’s Senegalese center Boniface Ndong (L) vies with UnicsKazan’s US guard Lynn Greer (R) during the two teams’ Turkish Airlines Euroleague match. AFP photo

Regal Barcelona will become the first team to punch its ticket to the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four if the Catalan team can beat Unics Kazan tonight.

Barcelona visits Unics for the first-ever Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs game in Kazan, Russia, tonight and will chase its third win of the round, which would clinch the best-of-five series. Barça won the opening two games on home court and will try to kill off the Russians to claim the first ticket to the Final Four, which will be played in Istanbul in May.

Unics needs to win to stay alive in the competition but has already lost against Barcelona in all four previous matchups this season.

Barcelona sat out Pete Mickeal and Boni Ndong in a Spanish League game this weekend. Both players, however, are expected to play in Kazan. Unics has been without Mike Wilkinson in the series due to a shoulder problem, and the American remains questionable for Game 3.

Unics coach Evgeny Pashutin said his team was not ready to bow out of the competition yet.

“The previous games showed that we are able to play even against such a strong team as Barcelona. To compete with Barcelona, we will play as a team both in offense and in defense and do our best to avoid turnovers and mistakes,” Pashutin was quoted as saying on the official Euroleague website.

In another game tonight, Maccabi Electra will try to protect the home court advantage it stole from Panathinaikos. The series is tied at 1-1 after the Israelis managed to win one of the two games played at Panathinaikos; Maccabi will also advance to the Final Four if it can win its two games on home court this week.

March/27/2012

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