Buzzer-beater keeps Anadolu Efes' Final Four hopes alive
BELGRADE - Reuters
Hürriyet photoThere was Turkish delight and Spanish sorrow on a night of frantic Euroleague playoff action as Anadolu Efes Istanbul beat Real Madrid while Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus sank Barcelona on April 21.
American guard Matt Janning scored a three-pointer on the buzzer to give Anadolu a 75-72 home win over Real and cut their lead in the best-of-five quarter-final series to 2-1, with Game Four taking place in Istanbul on April 23.
In Athens, forward Georgios Printezis shone as Olympiakos beat Barcelona 73-71 to nose ahead 2-1 in the series and put themselves in a commanding position to reach the May 15-17 Final Four in Madrid.
Real, who will be strong favourites on home court to win their ninth Euroleague title if they advance, seemed poised to force overtime after Jaycee Carroll nailed an audacious three-pointer with seven seconds remaining.
But the effervescent Janning, the game's top scorer with 21 points, kept Anadolu's challenge alive with an equally impressive long-range shot which threw the home crowd into raptures and prompted wild on-court celebrations.
Printezis scored eight points in a 13-2 fourth-quarter run as Olympiakos overturned a 60-59 deficit and held off a late Barcelona rally after the visitors had been kept scoreless in the first six and a half minutes of a bruising final period.
The forward buried one of two free throws in the dying seconds and Justin Doellman missed a last-gasp three-pointer at the other end to put Olympiakos on the verge of reaching the season-ending showpiece event.
"It felt like a final but we still have to win one more game in order to qualify," Printezis, who finished on a game-high 19 points, told Euroleague television.
"Barcelona are very dangerous and we have to forget this victory straight away in order to start focusing on the next game."
Fenerbahçe Istanbul have qualified for the Final Four with a 3-0 sweep of holders Maccabi Tel Aviv while CSKA Moscow lead Panathinaikos 2-1 ahead of their next meeting in Athens on April 22.