CSKA Moscow became the first team to make it to the Quarterfinal Playoffs in Group E by downing DKV Joventut 65-73 in Badalona, Spain on Wednesday night. CSKA improved to 4-0 and will be the Group E champion if it wins any of its two remaining games. Meanwhile, Joventut dropped to 1-3 and faces a make-or-break home game against Partizan next week. J.R. Holden led the winners with 17 points. Matjaz Smodis added 14 while Trajan Langdon had 13 for CSKA. Rudy Fernandez had 14 points for Joventut, Robert Archibald added 12 points and Charles Gaines 11. Smodis and an outstanding Holden allowed CSKA to get a double-digit margin, 32-42, at halftime. CSKA improved its defense after the break, not allowing any easy shots. Meanwhile, Langdon had 9 points in the third quarter to boost the guests' lead to 45-58 after 30 minutes. Smodis and Oscar Torres soon broke the game open, 47-66, as CSKA left the court knowing it will keep fighting for Euroleague glory.
Ferran Laviña got Joventut on the scoreboard with a three-pointer from the top of the circle, but Joventut failed to get any more easy shots in the early going. Holden shined with an electric driving layup while Trajan Langdon buried a step-back jumper for a 3-4 CSKA lead. Joventut went scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Gaines hit a short shot but Holden answered from downtown to keep CSKA ahead, 5-7. Gaines followed a jump hook with an easy basket but a triple by Torres allowed CSKA to regain the lead, 9-10, after 6 minutes. Holden nailed a jumper that Dimitri Flis erased with a long two-pointer. Holden kept pacing CSKA with free throws and Anton Ponkrashov added a layup-plus-foul shot that boosted the guests in front by 11-17. David Andersen capped a 2-12 CSKA run with free throws but Archibald stepped up with a three-point play and Fernandez added a buzzer-beating eight-meter bomb to bring Joventut within 17-21 after 10 minutes.
Aleksey Savrasenko shined with a fastbreak layup early in the second quarter that Fernandez matched with foul shots. Joventut tried fullcourt pressure but Smodis broke it with an easy basket. Marcelinho Huertas buried a big triple and Fernandez added a driving layup to get Joventut as close as 23-25. Smodis responded with a three-point play but CSKA had already entered the foul bonus. Huertas followed free throws with a driving layup, as Joventut kept trying fullcourt pressure as often as possible. Savrasenko and Holden allowed CSKA to stay ahead, 26-33. Smodis emerged again with a put-back basket while Torres added a floating layup to give CSKA its first double-digit lead, 27-37. Huertas and Smodis traded jumpers but CSKA kept shining on defense. Meanwhile, Thomas Van den Spiegel provided a highlight with a power dunk before a corner triple by Paco Vazquez brought Joventut within 32-42 at the end of an intense first half.
Smodis got the second half going with a jump hook as CSKA's defense continued refusing to allow Joventut easy shots. Langdon added an off-balance driving layup for the visitors that Gaines matched with a big basket in the low post. Joventut kept looking for its big men inside, as Archibald's reverse layup got the hosts within 36-46. Ricky Rubio found his first points on free throws but Langdon copied him at the other end and added a fallaway jumper for a 38-50 CSKA lead. Joventut kept struggling and veen when Fernandez and Rubio returned to court, Andersen took over with a layup-plus-foul, good for a 40-53 CSKA lead. Flis tried to ignit the Joventut comeback wuth a fast break dunk but Theo Papaloukas erased with a smooth layup and Langdon fired in one from downtown to make it a 15-point game, 43-58. Free throws by Fernandez gave Joventut some hope, 45-58, at the end of the third quarter.
Gaines tried to get Joventut back into the game with a jump hook but Smodis answered with his trademark triple from the top of the key, good for a 47-61 CSKA lead. Savrasenko soon added a put-back basket and grabbed an offensive rebounds that allowed Torres to fire in a corner triple that broke the game open, 47-66. Joventut had lost control now but Fernandez stepped up with a mid-range jumper. Vazquez buried a triple off a Joventut timeout and Archibald added a close basket to get the guests within 54-66 with 4 minutes to go. Langdon shined with a driving layup that Huertas copied in the other end. Papaloukas showed its talent with an outstanding basket and Joventut simply ran out of time, as CSKA returned to Moscow with a playoff berth, after yet another defensive exhibition.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007