Milan surge into playoffs, Real edge Maccabi
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Former Euroleague winners Milan powered into the playoffs with two games to spare after an 82-73 win at Fenerbahce and eight-times champions Real Madrid stayed top of their section with a dramatic victory at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Holders Olympiakos Piraeus boosted their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals thanks to an impressive 80-63 away rout of Unicaja Malaga while their cross-town rivals Panathinaikos went down 84-62 at Barcelona, who stretched their perfect Top 16 record to 12 wins.
Milan, who last won Europe's premier club basketball competition in 1988, prevailed in front of a fervent Istanbul crowd on Friday as Fenerbahce's Serb coach Zeljko Obradovic was ejected midway through the third quarter for dissent after continuous protests to the referees.
Trailing by 20 points at that stage, the home team launched a fierce onslaught in the final period and cut the deficit to five points but the visitors held firm to cancel out a brilliant individual performance by Fenerbahce forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Croatian netted a game-high 24 points and Lester Bo McCalebb sank 17 for the home side but the rest of the roster misfired, with Milan nailing nine three-pointers as five of their players finished with double scoring digits.
Needing a win to keep alive their challenge, Olympiakos took control from the start and overran Unicaja thanks to another inspired performance from playmaker Vassilis Spanoulis, who scored 20 points.
"We played well and were intense from the beginning, as our guards had a great game after learning how to handle each situation and that is one of the most important things in basketball," Olympiakos coach Georgios Bartzokas told www.euroleague.net. Continued...