Armani Jeans Milano topped CSKA 73-88
The first upset of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in Group D arrived in the opener as AJ Milano managed to pull out a 73-88 road win at CSKA Moscow on Thursday. An amazing first half by the visitors saw them hit 9 of 13 from downtown and force CSKA into 11 turnovers with no steals at all for the hosts. Armani Jeans held a 29-52 lead at halftime and although CSKA reacted in the second half, Milano managed its lead in a smart way to escape Moscow with the win. Oleksiy Pecherov shined in his Euroleague debut with 23 points for the winners, while Morris Finley recorded 15 points and 5 assists, Stefano Mancinelli scored 13, Jonas Maciulis and Ibby Jaaber added 11 each and Mason Rocca 10. Milano heads home to host Union Olimpija. Jamont Gordon paced CSKA with 15 points, Dimitry Sokolov had 13 and Andrey Vorontsevich 11. The game was CSKA guard J.R. Holden's 200th appearance in a Euroleague Basketball game, becoming the first player to accomplish such feat. It also marked the first time in 117 games since he arrived at CSKA that Trajan Langdon did not start for his team. CSKA visits Panathinaikos in next week’s Euroleague Game of the Week.
The game started with Mancinelli hitting a pair of threes around a Ramunas Siskauskas basket for a 2-6 AJ Milano lead. Boban Marjanovic started showing dominance soon in the paint, but he was not able to finish and Sokolov soon took his place. A three by Pecherov made it 2-9, but Gordon soon stopped the bleeding from the line. Both defenses started forcing mistakes and David Hawkins managed a steal and slam that brought on the first CSKA timeout. Sokolov and Pecherov traded hooks and Aleksey Shved appeared from downtown to make it a 2-point game, but Il Mancio blasted his third three with to keep things in place. AJ Milano was trying to run when possible and could do it often thanks to strong defense. Sokolov was still strong and going inside for CSKA, but Macinelli was on fire and hit his 11th point with a nice move in the paint. It was time for J.R. Holden to step in the court to try to save his team. Sokolov scored again to make, but AJ Milano was simply rolling on offense as Marco Mordente pulled up for a jumper matched by Sokolov to close the first period with a 17-26 Milano lead.
Jaaber opened the second quarter with a basket to make it an 11-point margin for Milano, but the guests were not so comfortable at this point when CSKA's defense closed in and Vorontsevich added his first bucket of the night for the hosts. Milano guarded Sokolov hard as his CSKA teammates insisted on him inside, while on offense the visitors were able to grab a couple of offensive boards to keep trying, though to no avail. Marjanovic stepped back on court for the hosts and he finally scored, putting back his own missed shot to break a three-minute scoring drought. Vorontsevich soon drained a long jumper to put CSKA even closer and force a Milano timeout. The guests finally managed to move the ball in full force to find Maciulis open from three, but on the other end Marjanovic imposed his law under the boards by grabbing every ball over players' heads. Lucky for Milano however, Finley blasted a three with no need to go inside to make it 23-34. The trend went on with Marjanovic hitting free throws for CSKA and Pecherov raining threes for Milano as the game entered the last three minutes of the half with a 25-37 Milano edge. Marjanovic dominated inside to keep his team alive, but Pecherov found another space in the corner for a three that made it 27-42. Desperation could be seen in CSKA’s faces as Finley nailed a three and Maciulis added a basket plus foul to leave things at 29-50 when Matjaz Smodis was called for an unsportsmanlike foul. Pecherov however still had some time to nail another basket making it 29-52 at the break.
Both teams started the second half missing open threes, but Gordon finally got points falling for CSKA with a five-meter jumper. Siskauskas had to grab 2 of his offensive boards to be able to score from the free-throw line and then Langdon scored his first points from the same distance. CSKA's defense forced Milano to play until the last seconds of possession and the guests were not comfortable with that. Siska blasted a three to make it 37-52. Maciulis finally scored a three for AJ 3:40 after the start of the second half, but Vorontsevich soon replied in the same way. Gordon tried to run his team's offense with quick moves and baskets, but Finley managed to drive under the basket for a difficult layup. Milano seemed to regroup little by little, even though CSKA was cutting the deficit by the minute. CSKA was still forcing each Milano possession to the last seconds, but the guests were drawing fouls now. Milano was missing Hawkins's usual accuracy at this point, but the hosts were not on fire either with the open shots. Mancinelli scored for the guests, but Gordon blasted a three for CSKA. Jaaber hit an 8-meter three on the shot-clock buzzer that gave some precious air to Milano, 48-66. Vorontsevich showed his enormous talent with a nice hook, but Finley kept danger away. Smodis fought his own way to his first basket of the night, but Jaaber swirled in the paint to lift a layup that would make it 54-72 after 30 minutes.
The last period was opened by Marjanovic's turnaround jumper for CSKA, and soon Smodis blasted a three for a 5-0 spurt. Mordente was called for an offensive foul, but CSKA didn't execute and Rocca scored to keep Milano going. CSKA managed to draw fouls and Holden helped out with a three to get within 62-74. After a blank quarter however, Pecherov copied Holden soon enough to quiet the stands. CSKA was already traveling to the foul line on nearly every occasion with six minutes to go, but Rocca forced his way for a basket plus foul. CSKA needed fast solutions and Smodis obliged with a three, but after timeout Pecherov hit his fifth three to keep Milano in control. The game entered its last four minutes with the ball in AJ's hands, but after a few misses by both teams, time was starting to run out on CSKA. The hosts tried from downtown, but the ball didn't go in and when AJ Milano managed a steal with 2:40 to go, it was clear that the guests would escape Moscow with a win. CSKA didn't stop fighting trying to at least trim the deficit, but Pecherov kept adding points to his column to make sure Milano celebrated.
Thursday, October 21, 2010