(Reuters) - Russians Lokomotiv Krasnodar staged the Euroleague’s biggest upset of the season by knocking out twice former winners Barcelona to reach the premier club competition’s Final Four for the first time on Tuesday.
Joyous fans poured on to the court as Lokomotiv, who had never previously reached the knockout stages, beat their illustrious visitors 81-67 to win a thrilling best-of-five quarter-final 3-2.
Lokomotiv will now play compatriots and six-time winners CSKA Moscow in the semi-finals, while Fenerbahce Istanbul will lock horns with Spaniards Laboral Kutxa Vitoria at the May 13-15 showpiece event in Berlin.
Lokomotiv, who forced the tiebreaker with a stunning Game 4 overtime win in Barcelona on Thursday, came out on top in a roller-coaster contest after outscoring Barcelona 23-5 in a sizzling fourth quarter.
The lead changed hands time and again as the teams played in fits and starts, with Barca producing a strong third quarter performance to turn a 50-39 halftime deficit into a 62-58 lead.
But their long-range shooting came to a screeching halt in the final period as they squandered their last eight three-point shots, while the home team’s key performers did not miss.
Playmaker Malcolm Delaney led Lokomotiv with 17 points, forward Chris Singleton scored 16, Ryan Broekhoff added 14 and Matt Janning netted 10, with eight of those coming in a frantic last few minutes.
Greece forward Stratos Perperoglu led Barcelona with 13 points followed by the competition’s all-time leading scorer Juan Carlos Navatro on 12 but both of them were stifled at crunch time by Lokomotiv’s ironclad defense.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Ken Ferris