CSKA Moscow has taken sole possession of third place in Group C on Thursday by beating off a strong challenge by visiting Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez to preserve a 80-69 home victory. The teams entered the game tied behind Panathinaikos and Real Madrid. CSKA is now up to 5-3 while Pau falls to even at 4-4. What's more, CSKA's victory came by more than the 8 points by which Pau had won their first game, meaning the Russian team would have an advantage if a tie-breaker is needed between the two teams. This marked the second straight game won by CSKA despite the injury to its top performer, forward Mirsad Turkcan. Gordan Giricek and Alexandre Petrenko proved the keys to victory. Petrenko scored 2 three-pointers in an 11-0 run early in the third quarter that put CSKA ahead for good. Giricek took over in the fourth quarter, hitting a particularly big three-pointer after Pau came within 61-63, and then assuring the higher victory margin down the stretch. Giricek crowned the game with a dunk to lead all scorers with 23 points. Petrenko added 19, Zakhar Pachoutine 14 and Curtis McCants 10 for the winners. For Pau-Orthez, Brad Seelers had 16 points and Dragan Lukovski 14, while leading scorer Roger Esteller was held well below his average with 11.
The Red Army team jumped off to a quick start in the first quarter behind baskets by Morgunov in the paint. But after a Pau timeout, the visitors came back to take an early lead behind the dominating inside play of Rod Sellers, who finished with 3 powerful dunks in the quarter. In the second quarter the two teams fought back and forth, as Pau got some excellent outside shooting from Arthur Drozdov off the bench. Behind the play of Curtis McCants and excellent defense by Zakhar Pashutin, CSKA battled hard and went into the half with the score tied at 40-40.
In the third quarter Petrenko began to assert himself on the offensive end. Petrenko dropped in two three-pointers in a 11-0 run in which Zakhar Pashutin also notched a 3-point play. The run was the turning point of the game for the home team, as they were not to trail for the remainder of the contest. The fourth quarter belonged to CSKA¿s Gordan Giricek. The Croatian shooter found his touch and began knocking down three-pointers and attacking the basket. Combined with the strong leadership of McCants at the point, the home team managed to hold on for an 11-point margin which could come in handy as a tie-breaker if the teams tie at the end of the regular season.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
Maria Kravtchenko, Moscow