2006-07Final FourSEMIFINAL B
May 04, 2007 CET: 17:30
Local time: 18:30 OAKA
Theo Papaloukas - CSKA Moscow - Final Four Athens 2007 - EB06

CSKA Moscow is back in the Euroleague title game!

The defending champs overcame Unicaja 62-50 Friday evening in the first semifinal of the 2007 Euroleague Final Four at Athens Olympic Indoor Hall in the Greek capital. David Andersen had 12 points and 9 rebounds and Theodoros Papaloukas scored 11, dished 4 assists and had 5 big steals to lead CSKA. Unicaja gave a valiant effort and held the lead with 7-and-a-half minutes remaining, but a 14-0 CSKA run knocked out the Spanish champs, who were unable to recover in time. Unicaja had already been forced to come back earlier in the game. After a Marcus Faison slam knotted the game at 24-24, CSKA held Unicaja scoreless for the final 4 minutes of the second period, during which it reeled off 9 unanswered points to take a 33-24 halftime lead. But Carlos Cabezas led Unicaja back at the start of the third period and a thriller ensued, with the score knotted at 44-44 after 30 minutes. But CSKA proved too strong down the stretch and will now face the winner of Friday's late game between Panathinaikos and Tau Ceramica for the right to become the eighth team in European basketball history to repeat as continental champs. Trajan Langdon led CSKA with 13 points and Matjaz Smodis added 8 points and 8 rebounds. Unicaja, playing without injured center Daniel Santiago, got 13 points from Cabezas, Marcus Brown added 8 and Berni Rodriguez 7.

There were no surprises in the starting lineups, with Unicaja's Iñaki de Miguel matching up at center with former teammate Aleksey Savrasenko. As expected, both defenses were tough in the early going and the intensity was off the charts. The game remained scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Matjaz Smodis hit triple from the top of the key. But Carlos Jimenez answered immediately from downtown for Unicaja. CSKA controlled the boards through an outstanding Savrasenko, but missed free throws allowed kept CSKA down as Cabezas nailed a triple to give Unicaja its first lead at 4-6. J.R. Holden buried a jumper before De Miguel scored over Savrasenko down low. Papaloukas stepped on court midway through the first quarter, but Unicaja remained hot as Jimenez fed Jiri Welsch for a tough layup and a 6-10 Unicaja lead. Holden set up Savrasenko for an easy layup and Langdon added a fast break basket to tie at 10-10. Unicaja stayed focused as Cabezas nailed a big jumper and then Berni Rodriguez took the court to take care of Papaloukas. Thomas Van den Spiegel his a put-back layup, but Jimenez made a foul shot and then fed Marcus Faison for a fast break basket. Holden scored in penetration and a put-back slam by Andersen fixed the score at 18-15 after 10 exciting minutes.

Unicaja started to lock up the defensive rebounds early in the second quarter, no longer allowing any second-chance points. Meanwhile, Rodriguez fired one in from downtown to tie the score once more. Smodis fed Papaloukas for a layup off an inbounds pass, while Unicaja's second lineup struggled to score now. Savrasenko made a left-handed jump hook only for Florent Pietrus to match it with a high-flying tip-in. CSKA adjusted its defense and Holden buried a jumper for a 24-20 edge. Rodriguez quickly answered with a fast break layup, forcing coach Ettore Messina to call the game's first timeout. Van den Spiegel had a huge block on Marko Tusek, as both teams dived for every loose ball now. Faison dunked it after a midcourt steal, as the game turned into a physical battle. Pepe Sanchez was called for a technical foul, Unicaja entered the bonus and CSKA made the most of it. Langdon hit three free throws for a 27-24 CSKA edge. Papaloukas returned to the floor and immediately delivered with a steal and a three-pointer. Andersen then capped a 9-0 CSKA run with a wild turnaround jumper, which allowed CSKA to take an important 33-24 halftime lead.

Both teams went back to their starting lineups after the break, as Unicaja started to find some offensive options. De Miguel buried a five-meter shot and Cabezas hit a triple off the dribble to bring their team back to life. Unicaja had picked up its aggressiveness, especially on defense, while Jimenez blew past Andersen to cap a 0-7 run with a layup. CSKA went scoreless for nearly 3 minutes until Langdon buried a baseline jumper, but a red-hot Cabezas answered from downtown to make it a 1-point game, 35-34. Papaloukas rescued CSKA with an off-balanced jumper and Savrasenko stepped up again with another jump hook. Unicaja already started having severe problems scoring as it missed three straight times from downtown in as many trips down the court. Defense kept the Spanish champs alive, however, until Brown finally buried a triple to get Unicaja within 39-37 after 26 minutes. Andersen nailed a turnaround shot, but Brown hit free throws and Cabezas added a fast break layup, but he was hit in the face by Torres on the play and forced to come off. Sanchez came off the bench to hit a free throw that put Unicaja back ahead, 41-42. Smodis answered from downtown, but Unicaja did not allow any easy shots now. A timeout allowed Rodriguez to beat the buzzer with a layup that tied the thriller at 44-44 at the end of the third quarter.

Smodis stepped up with a put-back layup early in the fourth quarter, but Tusek answered with a three to give Unicaja a 46-47 edge. Pietrus picked his fourth foul, but that did not stop Unicaja from carrying on excelling in defense. All the non-believers had already realized that Unicaja was here to compete and take the game down to the wire. Andersen hit a five-meter jumper, meanwhile Unicaja tried twin playmakers with Sanchez and a recovered Cabezas back on court. Points came the hard way now, but Langdon finished a third-chance CSKA offense with a power basket and the free throw that came with it. Unicaja had been scoreless for 3 minutes already and called a timeout to fix its offense. Andersen finished a long CSKA offense with another mid-range jumper, while Unicaja continued to struggle down the stretch. Langdon hit a three-pointer that broke the game open, 56-47, with less than 4 minutes to go. Unicaja simply could not find the way to the basket, while a fast break dunk by Papaloukas ended a 14-0 run and sealed the outcome.

Friday, May 4, 2007
Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net
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Attendance: 18363
By Quarter1234
CSKA Moscow18151118
Unicaja Malaga159206
End of Quarter1234
CSKA Moscow18334462
Unicaja Malaga15244450
CSKA Moscow
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 PAPALOUKAS, THEODOROS 31:15 11 3/4 1/1 2/3 1 6 7 4 5 4     1 2 22
5 KURBANOV, NIKITA 0:15                              
8 SMODIS, MATJAZ 25:30 8 1/3 2/5   3 5 8 1   4     3 5 10
9 VANTERPOOL, DAVID DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10 HOLDEN, JR 33:00 7 3/4 0/5 1/2   2 2 3 1 2     2 2 4
11 PASHUTIN, ZAKHAR 4:00 2 1/1       1 1     1         2
13 ANDERSEN, DAVID 27:15 12 6/9     4 5 9           3 3 18
14 SAVRASENKO, ALEKSEY 16:45 7 3/5   1/2 2 3 5 1   1     3 2 8
17 TORRES, OSCAR 16:45   0/3 0/1 0/2   1 1     1     3 2 -7
18 PONKRASHOV, ANTON 0:15                              
21 LANGDON, TRAJAN 34:45 13 3/8 1/6 4/5 2 2 4 1 2 3     1 3 8
22 VAN DEN SPIEGEL, TOMAS 10:15 2 1/1     1 1 2       1   2   3
Team             4 4               4
Totals 200:00 62 21/38 4/18 8/14 13 30 43 10 8 16 1 0 18 19 72
        55.3% 22.2% 57.1%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Unicaja Malaga
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 SANCHEZ, PEPE 15:45 1 0/2 0/4 1/1 2 1 3 3         2   -1
5 RODRIGUEZ, BERNI 22:00 7 2/6 1/3     1 1 1   2     2 2 1
7 VASILEIADIS, KOSTAS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 WELSCH, JIRI 14:45 2 1/1 0/2     2 2 1   2     3 3 1
10 CABEZAS, CARLOS 25:15 13 2/3 3/4     1 1 3 1 1     1 5 19
11 PIETRUS, FLORENT 11:30 2 1/1     1 1 2   1 1     4 1 1
15 DE MIGUEL, IGNACIO 21:00 4 2/2 0/1     3 3   2 1     2 1 6
17 TUSEK, MARKO 17:15 3 0/4 1/4     2 2     1   1 3 1 -6
20 JIMENEZ, CARLOS 30:15 6 1/1 1/1 1/2 3 5 8 3 3       1 3 21
22 SANCHEZ, ALFONSO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
24 FAISON, MARCUS 14:00 4 2/5 0/2     2 2   1 1         1
41 BROWN, MARCUS 28:15 8 0/3 2/6 2/2   2 2 2 1 3     2 2 3
Team             1 1               1
Totals 200:00 50 11/28 8/27 4/5 6 21 27 13 9 12 0 1 20 18 47
        39.3% 29.6% 80%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

CSKA Moscow
"We all have to congratulate Unicaja for their aggressiveness and toughness and the heart they put in the game. I was sure it would be the toughest game for us for two reasons. First, the loss of Santiago caused a sense of mind that we must win by a big margin. We tried a lot to convince our players that we just need to win the game, and to isolate them from all the comments around. Second, They have, especially in the front line, a quickness we don't have. We are a powerful team, we can post well, but they are quicker than us. Every time we didn't move the ball well, our offense stopped and we took bad shots. We won the game because of great defense... We played with great confidence in the last minutes when everybody thought Unicaja was going to win. Everybody wrote that Unicaja has a chance if they enter the last minutes in a close margin, but after they took the lead early in the last quarter, we reacted well.”

“Now we're going to play the finals on Sunday and we'll play against a team with much more offensive tools than us, no matter which one will qualify. We'd like to relax a little bit and then start to think about the finals tonight. The last two-three weeks, Theo tried to do everything. I was very concerned about him playing here and not having the patience to let the game come to him, but he's a first-level player. I'm very happy because one more time my team is in the finals. When you go to Final Four you always think how horrible it will be to prepare for the 3rd place game. I'm always scared what will I do if it happens, so I'm very happy to be in the finals.”

“I don’t have regret of the past. Obviously it was very sad to lose in Bolgona. Not because of Panathinaikos, but because that year a lot of things happened in my club, and a lot of decision and situation could be accepted only if we had won. I'm very happy with my three titles. Each one of them was special. In 1998 it was the first title with Kinder. The 2001 title was the first ever Euroleague title and last year we won the title with CSKA after 35 years, and it was very, very special.”
Unicaja Malaga
“We have come where we wanted to go. At some certain period of time, we played our game point by point, but in 5 minutes they beat us. Fatigue is one of the reasons because it made us lose the ball and make bad decisions. We weren't paying attention to the situation that required that. The opponent had great players with more patience. They scored some key shots at the very last seconds of the shot clock. In the last 5 minutes of both halves we weren't focused as we should have been.”

“Our idea was to press them when Holden and Papaloukas were playing alone, because you can't press a team with two point-guards. Since they played together most of the time, this is the reason why sometimes we pressed and sometimes we didn't.”

“I don't like to complain about referees, especially after a loss. In some minutes of the game we played great. It's easy to understand why some players missed more shots than others. They lack experience, they haven't played at this level and they don't have the stardust for this level. We have to keep in mind that they beat us with a much bigger difference than they were leading throughout most of the game.”

“We played against the defending champs, and there's no team in Europe that play in such intensity. When we have players that are less equipped from the point of view of defense, then we see that our defense has to rise to the occasion since it allows us to play point by point. Their players were able to put their talent together in a team concept. Giving their best defense. They put together a basketball system and with big mental toughness, and it makes them really, really tough to beat. We tried to beat them with some ideas, and we slowed them down a little bit.”

“We weren't afraid to win, but what got into their heads, and made us lose, was a defense problem. We were very tired, we lost our patience, and there were some situations that we had to react fast, and we didn't do that.”


CSKA Moscow
“Everybody expected an easy game, but we knew it would be a tough game. Those smart people who said it was going to be easy for us just saw what is all about, and that the Final Four is like a fight. We came out ready to fight and managed to win the game. We were struggling from outside, but defense kept us in the game, and it was defense that allowed us to make it to the final. Finally, our shots started to fall in the fourth quarter and we won the game.”
CSKA Moscow
“Defense is our weapon, especially in a game like this. You could see how many turnovers both teams had in this game, and that is because the pressure is on in the Final Four. Everybody is nervous, but we showed our character and that we are a big team. It was a very bad scoring night for us, we didn't even play together at some points. We played extremely good defense and that kept us in the game. We scored some baskets in 2-3 minutes that were crucial and after that, Unicaja collapsed.”
CSKA Moscow
"Like in the entire season, it was defense that made the difference and allowed us to make it to the final. We had a bad start in the second half and thought that maybe the game was over, but we recovered and showed that we have character in this team. I really think that it was defense that got us to the final today. It is always defense, if we play it hard, we are a very good team. This is my fifth Euroleague final. When I started my career, I was just happy to play. This is beyond any of my dreams now. I maybe thought about making it to the Euroleague final once, twice, or to win a title sometime, but this is beyond anything I could expect."
CSKA Moscow
"It was a hard game for us. We knew they would have the most chances if they played like they did today, because of their injuries and the matchups they had with us. They are all quick guys, faster than us, so we knew it would take 40 minutes to beat Unicaja. We didn't panic despite playing a terrible third quarter and we managed to do things like we wanted to in the fourth quarter. People may think it was easy for us to make it to the final after winning so many games this season, but you have to play hard every week in the Euroleague because a lot of teams can beat you if you don't step up."
CSKA Moscow
“We played well in the fourth quarter and that made the difference. it doesn't matter how well you play right now, you have to win games. We struggled for three-and-a-half quarters, but a win is a win right now. No matter who we face in the final, it will be a tough game. We have to relax, enjoy the win, but start to prepare for the final tomorrow. Whatever opponent that makes it, it will a tough one.”
CSKA Moscow
“We are a very defensive team and we really shut them down in the fourth quarter. This is what we wanted and we took it today, we only allowed Unicaja to score 6 points in the final period and got the win. Panathinaikos and Tau are very tough teams. The final will be a tough game no matter which team makes it. We have to be ready and play good basketball. Coming back to the Final Four and being a part of it this year is a special thing for me. I am just trying to make my team win.”
Unicaja Malaga
"I feel bad because it was a game that we could have won, but we missed some shots, we committed a few mistakes and it finally escaped from our hands. They have incredible offensive potential, but when we committed a couple of mistakes, they exploited them quite well. We can feel satisfied for what we have done, but once you see how close you had it, you start to feel worse."
Unicaja Malaga
“We can be proud of what we achieved tonight because we lost to a very strong team. I think we have to learn the lesson and use it for the domestic championship. We believed that we could win for the 40 minutes, from the beginning to the end, but their experience and strength were too much for us.”
Unicaja Malaga
“I feel bad because it was a semifinal game, and you cannot feel good when you lose it. I want to congratulate CSKA, because in this moment, they were better than we were tonight. We gave the maximum, but in the end we committed some mistakes and they managed to play quite well in offense in the final minutes. Now we have to focus on the domestic competition.”
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