Even without its hottest players, CSKA Moscow remained one of the Euroleague's hottest teams at the end of 2005 as it downed host Montepaschi Siena 66-75 on the road in Group C on Wednesday. CSKA's winning streak reached six games and its record 6-2 despite an injury that kept all-purpose guard David Vanterpool from playing. CSKA shares second place in Group C with Unicaja. Montepaschi fell to 3-5 but retains hold of fifth place in the group standings. A former Montepaschi player, David Andersen, led CSKA with 20 points and 8 rebounds in 25 minutes. He was matched in scoring by Trajan Langdon, while Theo Papaloukas added 14 points and Matjaz Smodis 11. Montepaschi, playing without two of its top guys, Duane Woodward and Benjamin Eze, led by a point after three quarters, but saw CSKA scored the first 9 points of the final quarter to take control. Roberto Chiacig led the hosts with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Shaun Stonerook added 12 points, Justin Hamilton and Rimantas Kaukenas 10 each.
Both teams looked to their big men on offense in the early going. Chiacig scored off a pick-and-roll with Hamilton, which Andersen answered with 4 points in a row. Montepaschi switched gears as Stonerook and Luigi Datome rained shots from downtown, but CSKA stayed close by concentrating inside until Andersen tapped a ball in and Matjaz Smodis curled into the paint to put the guests ahead 8-9. Chiacig and Datome put Montepaschi back up, 12-9. CSKA answered by setting free Aleksey Savrasenko with a pair of pick-and-rolls baskets assisted by Holden and Papaloukas, but Montepaschi stayed ahead 16-15 after 10 minutes.
Neither team was shooting well from downtown yet, and after the second quarter started quiet, they went back inside. Chiacig and Andersen dueled with baskets and free throws until CSKA's center went over 10 points himself with a basket that put the visitors up 21-23. A fastbreak layup by Papaloukas increased that, but Chiacig worked for a basket-plus-free throw in the post. Langdon matched that, however, to keep CSKA ahead before baskets by Stonerook and Kaukenas let Montepaschi take a lead back at 30-28. It didn't last, however, as Langdon struck for another basket-with-foul shot and then Smodis drilled CSKA's first triple. As Montepaschi struggled to score, Sergey Panov put in the last 4 points of the half to complete a 10-0 run that left CSKA in charge at 30-39.
After the break, Papaloukas scored 5 points to boost CSKA's edge to 12 points, 32-44, but the hosts reacted with a jump shot by Kaukenas. Montepaschi coach Carlo Recalcati then decided on full-court defensive pressure that turned the game around, blanking CSKA's scorers for 5 minutes, while paying off with steals that fueled a 9-0 run. Hamilton's triple and layup capped the surge with Montepaschi as close as 43-46. CSKA got back to scoring as Langdon put back rebound and caught fire to hit a pair of jump shots. But Montepaschi stayed close thanks to Mindaugas Zukauskas and Marco Nicola sharing 6 free throws. After Chiacig added a new basket to make it 51-52, Hamilton banked in a buzzer-beater to dramatically put Montepaschi in front, 54-53, after 30 minutes.
CSKA turned on its defense to take over in the fourth quarter, holding Montepaschi scoreless for 3 minutes as Andersen, Langdon and Smodis filled a 0-8 run that put the guests ahead 54-61. Montepaschi called a timeout and came back with the jumper by Kaukenas, but the duo Langdon-Andersen froze the home team's hope again with back-to-back baskets that made it 56-65. Chiacig tried to fight again, but Langdon signlled that CSKA would not be stopped when his triple made it 58-68. Just 4 minutes remained, and Montepaschi used 2 of them to come back within 63-68 on a dunk by Hamilton and a three-pointer by Stonerook. A scoreless minute passed, however, and when Smodis hit the next points on a layup, CSKA had the road win it was looking for.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005