ALBA holds off CSKA in thriller to claim first win
ALBA Berlin grabbed its first win of the season in dramatic fashion with a thrilling 88-93 victory at CSKA Moscow. An exciting game was closely contested throughout, with 62 points scored in a pulsating second quarter which featured 8 lead changes. ALBA continued to battle hard to lead by 3 at the end of the third quarter, and a big charge early in the fourth gave the visitors a double-digit lead. CSKA battled back to within 2 points, but it wasn’t enough as ALBA held its nerve in the final stages to claim its first ever win over the Russian giant. Simone Fontecchio led the German team to success with 20 points, followed by 15 from Maodo Lo. Marcus Eriksson made 3 triples in his total of 13 points, while Peyton Siva added 12 and Luke Sikma scored 11. Mike James produced a heroic effort in defeat with 27 points and 6 assists, while Will Clyburn scored 25 in defeat.
Darrun Hilliard’s jumper opened the scoring before Siva struck from deep to send ALBA in front in a low-scoring start. Tornike Shengelia scored twice, including a three-pointer, but Fontecchio also made a couple of scores for a 10-10 tie. James struck from deep and Ben Lammers dunked as the offenses started to click. Niels Giffey’s three-pointer and Jayson Granger’s long two sent ALBA back in front, but Clyburn’s triple made it 19-17 after ten minutes. Sikma, Giffey and Fontecchio scored close to the basket and Lo netted a threeball to make it 22-26, but Clyburn scored twice and Daniel Hackett struck from deep to give CSKA the lead. Siva forced yet another lead change from long-range, and Fontecchio’s driving layup made it 30-34. The hosts came back as Clyburn scored his third triple and Joel Bolomboy also struck from beyond the arc before James scored off-balance for a 38-36 edge. Clyburn from close range, James from the corner and Shengelia with a dunk put together a 7-0 run, before James, Clyburn, Siva and Lammers were all on target in a frantic finale to the first half, which finished 51-47. Fontecchio briefly brought ALBA level early in the third, but Hilliard and Clyburn sent CSKA in front. James penetrated to score for CSKA’s biggest lead so far, 60-53, but fastbreak baskets from Louis Olinde and Lo pulled ALBA closer. Eriksson’s threeball tied the game, and Granger penetrated to complete a 5-15 end to the quarter as the visiting team moved ahead 65-68. Granger doubled that lead from deep early in the fourth and a wide-open corner three from Eriksson forced CSKA into timeout at 65-74. James got CSKA moving with a long two, but Eriksson arrowed another long-range missile for a double-digit lead. James narrowed the gap but Fontecchio’s three-pointer made it 72-80 with 5 minutes left. James kept on leading CSKA to within 78-80, but Lo kept ALBA ahead with a three-point play and a layup. James struck from deep for 82-85 with 2 minutes left. Sikma’s layup stretched the lead, before Clyburn made it 85-87 inside the final minute. Giffey tipped in for 85-89, and ALBA got a big defensive stop followed by free throws to seal a famous victory.
Slow start from both teams
Both teams struggled to get their offenses moving, with only one field goal apiece in the opening 4 minutes of the game. ALBA made only 1 of its first 9 field goal attempts and CSKA committed 3 turnovers in the first 5 minutes.
Offensive explosion in second quarter
The second quarter was an entirely different matter as both teams launched an offensive explosion which was edged by CSKA, 32-30. The last two and a half minutes saw 24 points scored, with 10 of 14 field goals converted. That highly entertaining second period also featured 8 lead changes.
Granger and Eriksson mastermind key run
The game was ultimately decided by a 1-15 charge from ALBA to bridge the third and fourth quarters. Marcus Eriksson (twice) and Jayson Granger struck from deep, while Granger also beat the third quarter buzzer to help his team establish a big lead which was never relinquished.
Milutinov makes modest CSKA debut
After missing the first three games of the season, CSKA’s high-profile summer acquisition Nikola Milutinov made his debut. The former Olympiacos center entered the action late in the first quarter, and posted 4 points and 1 rebound in 7 minutes on the floor.
CSKA travels to Serbia to take on Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade for Round 5 next Thursday, while ALBA welcomes TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on the same night.
Friday, October 16, 2020