As we did not have a Live Blog tonight, I will give you my thoughts on the 4 games of the night as they happen. So the program started with the shock in Istanbul between Fenerbahce Ülker and Montepaschi Siena.
The arena looks pretty crowded in Abdi Ipecki except the stands just behind the Italian bench. Is there a reason for this? I hope somebody will give an explanation later for this. And it is my man Shaun Stonerook that puts down 6 points in the first five minutes. I really wish to meet him in Madrid and ask him some questions.
Wow, the horn in Istanbul is really loud, it just blew my ears on my headset on a 24secs call. I mean it has to be loud if you imagine the decibel level of Abdi Ipecki Arena during the big games. The 1st quarter is coming to an end and Montepaschi is already up big despite getting a lot of foul calls against them. Rasim Basak started the game for Ülker and James White did not see the court in the first 10 minutes. But the interesting thing may be the return of Mirsad Turkcan on the bench for Fenerbahce.
As this games looks a bit like being already set and done, I check what is going on in Piraeus for maybe the most electric match-up of the night. The EL.TV commentator duo from Italy is ready to comment this big game and directly comes up with some nice words: Welcome in the Piss and Friendship Stadium. Well, my Italian is for sure way worse than these guys English. The arena is packed and we are ready for the game of the night.
Well before the start of the game, I just checked back what is going on in Istanbul and the game is open again after some big dunks by Efes. I tried to just to have like three screens to watch the games in parallel and that works. So as we have halftime in Istanbul, the game in Belgrade is about to begin. So I am ready to hear the Partizan Anthem live from Pionir Hala . That’s always such a great moment. As soon as the game starts, the signal has disappeared and you just hear the Grobari singing.
And in Greece, the game is again going in direction of coach Yannakis, 27-15 after the first quarter while in Belgrade the images reappear. And Partizan has a first lead at 17-9 in front of Bojan Maljkovic and Dusko Ivanovic. And the first comes to an end at the score of 25-15 while in Greece we have a tie now. And the Serbian Cheerleaders dancing to Bill Haley’s Rock around the clock.
And CSKA started to play better and better to be ahead at halftime 38-42 with only 1 TO in the first 20 minutes while Olympiacos had 5. And in Istanbul, Siena is up by 18 at the start of Q4 and it really looks like we have the first Final Four Participant.
In Serbia, TAU has changed its defense and Partizan struggles to attack the zone set up by the team of Neven Spahija. And Simas Jasaitis hits the buzzer beating three pointer after a nice set play and we go to the lockers with a score of 36-31. The Abdi Ipecki Arena is already pretty calm though as the hometown favorites of Fenerbahce is trailing by 20 after their 0-16 slump in the third quarter. Omer Asik still tries to impress some people with his powerful dunks, but Montepaschi Mens Sana Siena is the first team qualified for the 2008 Final Four.
And at the beginning of the 2nd half, CSKA is starting like the team they can be, i.e. the best in Europe. But it is Jake Tsakalidis that gives Olympiakos their first basket but CSKA is already up 52-40. The game has also started in Barcelona where youngster Omri Casspi starts very strong with a big dunk and 7 point of the first 15 from Maccabi.
Partizan still can not increase their lead while CSKA remains around 12 points ahead in the last quarter behind some big shots by Matjaz Smodis. Everything looks like the series is going back to Moscow next week. Partizan is still having a short lead while Maccabi is trailing by 4 in Barcelona. And a nice tactical move by Partizan who set up a zone for the last defense in quarter 3 and TAU does not really know what to do and gets not score. 54-48 and 10 minutes to go.
Partizan increases their lead on a play that maybe shows the direction of the rest of the game. Rakocevic tries one of his desperation threes with foul acting but no call and Tepic runs the break, protects the ball perfectly and gives the no look over the shoulder pass for Novica Velickovic who scores.
And the game is over in Piraeus where Moscow wins it by 10 while FC Barcelona leads Maccabi Tel Aviv 43-37. Novica Velickovic hits another huge three and Partizan is up by 16 points 4 minutes before the end. And while the whole Pionir Arena is jumping with the back to the court, Vujosevic explains what to and Petar Bozic translates the instructions in English for Milt Palacio. I guess they understood what to do as Uros Tripkovic hits another long distance bomb.
The game is now all said and done and the Partizan players enjoy the enormous atmosphere in the arena and go for some more baskets and the series is ready to go back to Spain next week. And the game ends at the score of 76-55 and Neven Spahija does not look very happy and barely shakes hands with Dusko Vujosevic. Player of the game was once again Novica Velickovic with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Serbian forward who is NBA Draft eligible this year may get some interest in the summer by the big European teams for sure.
In Barcelona it is the Gianluca Basile show that guards the chances of the Catalans alive while Omri Casspi plays like a go-to-guy for Maccabi. And Barca is up by 10 points with 1 minute to go in quarter 3. And after another three by Basile Zvi Sherf gets mad on the sideline but Will Bynum beats the buzzer with one of the most incredible shots I have seen for a long time, 64-58 and 10 minutes to go.
And Basile hits some more shots to increase the lead to 10 points where it remains. Until the end and the series goes back to Israel after the 83-74 win by FC Barcelona.