CSKA Moscow began the defense of its Euroleague title with a 64-74 road win against newcomers Eldo Napoli in Naples, Italy, in a Group C encounter on Wednesday night. CSKA, which got its 15th win in its last 16 Euroleague games, hosts Aris in Game 2 next week. Eldo Napoli, which could not please its many fans in the stands, will visit Zalgiris in Kaunas next week. Trajan Langdon led the winners with 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Theo Papaloukas added 14, Aleksey Savrasenko had 12 and Matjaz Smodis scored 10 points for CSKA. Tierre Brown led all scorers with 24 points for Napoli. Michel Morandais added 11 points while Jay Larranaga had 10 for the hosts. Langdon fired in consecutive three-pointers in a 0-13 run which gave CSKA a 14-28 lead early in the second quarter. Napoli never recovered, even though Brown brought the hosts within 51-57 with 7 minutes to go, Langdon and an outstanding Papaloukas allowed CSKA to stay out of trouble and open the 2006-07 Euroleague regular season with a big road win.
Michael Morandais needed just 14 seconds to draw a foul and make two free throws for Napoli, before Tierre Brown shined with a driving layup, but Matjaz Smodis followed a jump hook with a big triple for a 4-5 CSKA lead in an electric start to the game. CSKA turned up the defensive pressure, making Napoli take off-balanced shots in the final seconds of each possession. On the other end, David Vanterpool fed Aleksey Savrasenko for a big three-point play. Jay Larranaga found space for an uncontested layup, which Trajan Langdon erased with free throws to keep CSKA ahead, 6-10, midway through the opening quarter. Brown hit a jumper from the high post, but Savrasenko bettered it with a fast break layup and a free throw. More free throws by Langdon gave CSKA a 8-15 lead. Napoli was struggling to score, but Larranaga did what he does best, draining consecutive three-pointers to bring Napoli back to life. Vanterpool's layup gave CSKA a 14-17 edge after 10 minutes.
Theo Papaloukas started the sewcond frame with a driving layup and soon added a free throw to keep CSKA ahead, 14-20. Napoli switched to a 2-3 zone defense, but Langdon punished them with back-to-back triples from the same spot in the corner. Smodis scored in transition for a 14-28 CSKA lead, capping a game-breaking 0-13 run. Brown came to the rescue with a five-meter jumper, but CSKA continued controlling the game with its outstanding defense. Napoli called timeout, but even after kept settled for outside shots with limited success. David Andersen buried a jumper and Vanterpool fired in a triple to make it a 15-point game (18-33). Jeff Trepagnier came through with a wild three-point play, which Brown followed with a fallaway jumper, but Napoli faced early foul trouble when Ansu Sesay picked up his third.Savrasenko and Trepagnier exchanged baskets while Morandais scored in transition to give the hosts some hope at 27-35. CSKA did not panic, as Papaloukas and Savrasenko made free throws while Langdon scored in the paint to give the reigning Euroleague champion a 29-40 lead at the break.
Mason Rocca tried to ignit a Napoli comeback with a layup at the start of the third quarter, but Langdon was there to answer with a turnaround jumper. Alessandro Cittadini hustled for some second-chance points, but Savrasenko matched it on the other end for a 33-44 CSKA margin. Napoli started trying to attack the basket and played with more intensity, but Langdon was on fire, as he buried a big triple to keep CSKA up by 11. Trepagnier and Brown scored to get Napoli within 40-47 midway through the third quarter. CSKA had some trouble scoring, but a timeout allowed the visitors to adjust their defense. Brown kept Napoli in the picture with a turnaround jumper, but Vanterpool rescued CSKA with a three-point play for a 42-50 CSKA edge. Napoli had entered the foul bonus, as Langdon, Tomas Van den Spiegel, Papaloukas and J.R. Holden made free throws to give the visitors a 44-56 lead after three quarters.
Napoli needed a quick fix to get into the game and Morandais tried to help with a layup-plus-foul. Brown added free throws to bring the hosts within 49-57. CSKA could not find the way to the basket now while Brown fired in a jumper which made it a six-point game, 51-57. Langdon then buried a big triple, just when CSKA needed it the most, as the defending champs gained their momentum with their trademark man-to-man defense. Both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes full of intense defense until Langdon made a free throw for a double-digit CSKA lead, 51-61. The guests soon entered the foul bonus and Valerio Spinelli hit free throws, but CSKA had its leader on court. Papaloukas controlled the tempo and made it 53-63 lead with four minutes to go. Brown fed Rocca for a layup and then scored around the basket, but Smodis fired in a triple from the left side to seal the win with under three minutes to go. Even though Napoli kept fighting until the final buzzer, CSKA had already added its first road win of the 2006-07 Euroleague season.