By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Six-time Euroleague winners CSKA Moscow and dark horses Fenerbahce Istanbul took 2-0 leads against their rivals in the competition’s best-of-five quarter-finals after sparkling home wins on Thursday.
CSKA blew away Panathinaikos 100-80 and Fenerbahce brushed aside holders Maccabi Tel Aviv 82-67 as both sides moved within one win of reaching the May 15-17 Final Four in Madrid.
The series continue in Athens and Tel Aviv on Monday and, if necessary, on Wednesday while potential tie-breakers will be played in Moscow and Istanbul respectively.
CSKA's former NBA forward Andrei Kirilenko produced his best performance since returning from the Brooklyn Nets in February for his third stint with the Russian giants.
The athletic 34-year old scored 16 points and nailed all four attempts from three-point range as CSKA buried a total of 14 long-range shots and dominated throughout the contest.
Like in Tuesday’s 93-66 rout of the Greek side, CSKA tore their opponents apart with quick transition of the ball in attack, allowing Sonny Weems to amass 20 points while France playmaker Nando De Colo added 16.
“We gave them no rhythm at all and played very good team defense but now face a tough outing in Athens where the home crowd will get behind their team,” Weems told Euroleague television.
CSKA's Greek coach Dimitris Itoudis added: “We are in a good position but haven't qualified yet, knowing that we are heading to one of the most difficult away courts in Europe”.
Fenerbahce steamrollered their way to a 55-34 lead early in the second half as playmaker Andrew Goudelock dazzled Maccabi with 17 of his 19 points in the opening period.
Towering center Semih Erden chipped in with 12 points and Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic netted 11, delighting his coach and compatriot Zeljko Obradovic.
“We will try to play the same way in Tel Aviv and hopefully we can produce our best basketball again although it won’t be easy because they are a good team,” Obradovic said.
On Friday, Real Madrid are at home to Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Barcelona entertain Olympiakos Piraeus, with both Spanish giants 1-0 ahead in the other quarter-final series.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)