CSKA Moscow ended Tau Ceramica's Euroleague-record home floor winning streak with a convincing 76-85 victory on Thursday night at the Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria, Spain. David Andersen and Trajan Langdon stepped up with 23 points apiece for the injury-riddled Russian champion, which was without four of its most important players – Theo Papaloukas, Ramunas Siskauskas, Matjaz Smodis and Aleksey Savrasenko. Tau had won 30 consecutive Euroleague home games dating back to January 2005 when it lost to the same CSKA team, though Andersen and J.R. Holden are the only CSKA players to take part in both games. With the win CSKA improved to 5-1 and took sole possession of first place in Group A. Tau dropped to 4-2 and into a tie with Montepaschi Siena for second. CSKA pulled away early with Langdon and Andersen sparking a 0-10 run, from which Tau never recovered. The Russian champs led 13-25 after 10 minutes and 35-44 at halftime before putting it away for good in the third. Andersen, who made 4 of 5 three pointers, also grabbed 10 rebounds for the winners. Marcus Goree added 12 points and Holden scored 10 for CSKA. Zoran Planinic led Tau with 15 points, Pablo Prigioni added 14, Will McDonald 13 and Igor Rakocevic and Tiago Splitter scored 12 points each.
The hosts remained scoreless for the first 90 seconds until Rakocevic and Pete Mickeal combined for a three pointer and a layup to put Tau ahead 5-2. The defenses were tough at both sides, preventing the opponents from getting easy points in the paint, but CSKA was the first one to find the right way to the basket as Langdon and Andersen sparked a 0-10 run for the visitors to force Tau’s first timeout midway through the first period. The Russian champs were strong on the offensive glass, preventing the hosts from running the court and playing their style. Although Linton Johnson nailed a three on his first attempt, Langdon responded quickly to allow CSKA keep a safe margin, 9-17, after seven minutes. Spahija tried to change the pace of the game replacing Planinic with Prigioni, but nothing worked as the visitors found open shots from the three-point line to stay ahead. Andersen and Andrey Vorontsevich hit twice from downtown to close the first quarter with CSKA leading 13-25.
Prigioni opened fire with a seven-meter three pointer, but it wasn’t enough to awake the hosts as Langdon and Zakhar Pashutin stopped the comeback with easy second-chance baskets. Tau's defensive effort increased, while the hosts tried to punish CSKA youngster Artem Zabelin feeding McDonald on every play, but his mistakes at the free-throw line allowed the visitors to keep a double-digit margin. CSKA's defense was almost perfect, as Tau's few points came slowly from the free throw line. Although CSKA’s shooting wasn’t great either, the visitors didn’t struggle to keep a safe margin thanks to several second-chance points, as they outrebounded Tau with ease. Splitter brought Tau within 32-39 with a basket-plus-free throw play, although Goree answered him with a desperate three entering the last minute. Another three, this time coming from Prigioni, was enough for Tau to reach the halftime down 35-44.
Nothing seemed to change after the break as Andersen hit another three and Goree followed him by banking a hook shot to boost the visitors' lead to 14 points. Tau was unable to find its momentum and CSKA took advantage to widen the gap to 38-56 after triples by Langdon and Nikos Zisis. CSKA took a 20-point lead midway though the third period with Tau looking dead at that point. However, 6 points in a row by Planinic and a block by Mickeal gave Tau a boost of energy for a while and forced CSKA head coach Ettore Messina’s urgent timeout. Holden took over after the break with two huge triples, but Tau managed to survive thanks to McDonald’s inside baskets and a three by Mirza Teletovic to trail 53-66 heading into the fourth quarter.
McDonald got Tau within 55-66 with a jumpe, but Andersen answered him with a three to keep the visitors calm. Although Teletovic hit from downtown on the following offense, he was unable to stop Goree at the other side. Goree collected two baskets in a row to extend the lead to 58-73, which looked like the definitive blow for the hosts. Langdon hit from downtown to confirm it, and repeated again few seconds later to earn some applause from the local crowd with CSKA leading 61-80 with four minutes remaining. With the outcome in no doubt, the the visitors enjoyed the final minutes as they celebrated a rare win in Vitoria and big victory in the race for Group A supremacy.
Thursday, November 29, 2007