MADRID (Reuters) - Triple Euroleague champions Olympiakos Piraeus fought back to edge CSKA Moscow 70-68 in a nail-biting contest to reach the final after overcoming a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter on Friday.
Playmaker Vassilis Spanoulis scored 11 of his 13 points in the last five minutes of a rip-roaring contest as Olympiakos continued to haunt their more fancied Russian rivals.
The outcome was almost a carbon copy of the 2012 final in Istanbul, when a buzzer-beating hook-shot by forward Georgios Printezis gave the Greek side a 62-61 win.
They also beat CSKA 69-52 in the 2013 semi-final in London en route to a second successive title.
Their opponents in Sunday’s final will be either hosts Real Madrid or dark horses Fenerbahce Istanbul, who meet in the other semi later on Friday.
Having missed out on last year’s showpiece event in Milan, after lifting the trophy by beating Real 100-88 in a spectacular 2013 final, Olympiakos again headed into the clash as underdogs against wealthy CSKA.
They trailed until the last two minutes after netting the first three points of the game but, roared on by about 2,000 vociferous Greek fans, Olympiakos kept coming back to put points on the board even when it seemed they had run out of steam.
With CSKA 63-54 ahead, Spanoulis ignited a 12-0 run with a pair of three-pointers and a difficult off-balance jump-shot.
When the score was tied at 66-66, he nailed another audacious shot from behind the three-point arc and, after guard Kostas Sloukas buried one of two free throws with six seconds left, CSKA threw away their last possession.
Printezis led Olympiakos with 14 points while France guard Nando De Colo scored a game-high 18 for CSKA, who were undone in the paint as battling Olympiakos collected seven rebounds more.
The Russians were also prevented from playing their trademark free-flowing game with their Serbia guard Milos Teodosic snuffed out throughout the contest while his opposite number Spanoulis delivered when it mattered most.
Editing by Ken Ferris