CSKA started 2007 write, staying atop Group C and avenging its only loss so far when it thrashed visiting Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez 78-58 on Wednesday in Moscow. CSKA, already qualified for the Top 16, holds onto first place in its group with a 9-1 record. Meanwhile, Pau dropped to 5-5 and will at least retain a share of fourth place in Group C. David Vanterpool led the winners with 16 points, J.R. Holden added 13 and Trajan Langdon 12 for CSKA. C.C. Harrison had 12 points while Ricardo Greer added 11 for Pau-Orthez, for whom Xane D'Almeida and Thierry Rupert were sidelined. Holden, Langdon and Vanterpool fueled a 14-1 run that bridged halftime and broke the game open, giving CSKA a 36-20 lead early in the third quarter. Pau never recovered, as CSKA kept double-digit leads until the final buzzer.
Pau tried to run its offense through Britton Johnsen while using aggressive, but foul-prone defense. As a result, CSKA went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes, but Pau got only a free throw from Michael Wright. Matjaz Smodis got CSKA going with foul shots that Wright matched with an inside basket. Pau soon entered the foul bonus and CSKA made the most of it. Langdon free throws ignited a 7-0 CSKA run that Vanterpool capped with a three-pointer, making Pau call timeout at 9-3. Johnsen buried his own shot from downtown but Pau kept struggling against CSKA's trademark man-to-man defense. Holden shined with a put-back basket that Greer bettered with a three-point play. Theo Papaloukas came off the bench to immediately hit free throws and then feed Thomas Van den Spiegel for a layup-plus-free throw. Ian Mahinmi dunked in response for Pau before a layup by David Andersen gave CSKA a 18-11 lead after 10 minutes.
Cedric Ferchaud sandwiched a pair a three-pointers early in the second quarter around one by Holden to pull Pau within 21-17. The guests improved their defense behind hyperactive Michael Bauer but otherwise kept struggling to score. CSKA did not do much better, getting only a free throw from Andersen in the next 2 minutes. Greer stepped up with a second-chance basket to get Pau as close as 22-19 after 16 minutes. CSKA used offensive boards to get extra chances, and soon Langdon shined with a put-back that Vanterpool followed with a mid-range jumper to make it 26-19. Pau simply could not find a way to the basket, and when Holden hit back-to-back jumpers, CSKA had an 8-1 run good for the game's first double-digit lead, 30-20, at halftime.
Smodis buried a triple right after the break to which Vanterpool added a layup-plus-free throw that extended CSKA's run to 14-1 and its lead to 36-20. Harrison tried to spark a Pau comeback with a three-pointer and Aaron Miles added a jumper that made it 36-25. That would be as close as Pau would get to the lead again, however. Langdon and Holden stepped up with consecutive jumpers to make CSKA stay out of trouble at 40-25. Johnsen hit free throws but Vanterpool answered with another basket, forcing a Pau timeout at 42-27. Greer tried to change things with a layup, but Smodis, Holden and Vanterpool fueled a 6-0 run that broke the game open for good at 48-29. Bauer and Greer fought back, but Langdon struck twice from downtown while Papaloukas scored and fed Aleksey Savrasenko on a three-point play that meant a 19-point CSKA lead, 59-40, after 30 minutes.
CSKA tried to offer some showtime to its many fans in the final quarter. A free throw by Andersen and a wild dunk by Savrasenko gave the hosts another game-high margin, 62-40, with 8 minutes to go. Pau did not give up, however, as Bauer hit from downtown and Mahinmi from inside. CSKA tried to rest its main players now for the game against Benetton Treviso next week, while Pau called timeout to organize its offense in the final 5 minutes. Bauer nailed another triple but it happened to be too little, too late for the guests. CSKA was headed for another victory in its fight to finish first in Group C, while Pau plays three of its four remaining games at home and has the chance to reach the Top 16 for the first time since 2004.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007