Balanced Madrid holds off CSKA in semifinal
Real Madrid will be playing in the 2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game after defeating CSKA Moscow 83-92 in the second semifinal at the Final Four at Stark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia on Friday. Real Madrid will face reigning champion Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul in Sunday's grand finale to the season. CSKA scored 30 points in the first quarter to open a double-digit lead, but Madrid hit 5 three-pointers in less than three minutes to open the second quarter and take the lead. It was 46-47 at halftime before Los Blancos went on 0-13 run and held CSKA to only 1 points for more than six minutes in the third quarter to open a double-digit lead of its own. The margin grew to 61-73 early in the fourth quarter. CSKA rallied to within 3 points, however Sergio Llull’s triple sparked a 2-9 run that helped seal the outcome. Luka Doncic and Llull scored 16 points apiece to pace the winners, Gustavo Ayon posted 12 points and 11 rebounds and Trey Thompkins also scored 12. Eleven of Madrid's 12 players scored in the game. Nando De Colo led CSKA with 20 points, Will Clyburn and Kyle Hines added 16 points each and Cory Higgins had 15.
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Higgins made a triple and a three-point play to start things for CSKA. Ayon scored from close range, but a triple from Sergio Rodriguez and a monster dunk from Higgins made it 11-4 after just over three minutes. Doncic answered with a three-pointer, and Rudy Fernandez drove for a runner, but Higgins and Rodriguez kept CSKA ahead by slicing through Madrid's defense for layups. With both teams in the penalty early, the players went to the free throw line a lot with Nando De Colo making 6 of 6. De Colo also had a baseline jumper and Hines added a put-back as CSKA extended the lead. Fernandez made an acrobatic second-chance runner for Madrid, but Clyburn beat the first-quarter buzzer with a corner triple that made it 30-20 after 10 minutes. Madrid quickly erased the deficit in the second quarter. In the opening 1:21 of the second, Fabien Causeur and Jaycee Carroll knocked down triples and Llull raced to a fast break basket in between for a 0-8 run. After a CSKA timeout, Madrid continued its course with Thompkins hitting from long range and Llull following with a transition three that put his team ahead 32-34 lead. Hines scored inside, making only CSKA’s field goal in first six minutes of the second quarter, but Carroll nailed another from downtown on the other end. That also marked the end of the scoring run. CSKA regained the lead with a short jumper from Nikita Kurbanov and after Carroll’s third triple in the quarter, a Rodriguez-to-Hunter alley-oop tied that game at 40-40. Threes from Clyburn and De Colo put CSKA back ahead, but Llull’s runner and a last-second put-back from Thompkins made it 46-47 at halftime.
A dunk by Hunter, and a third corner triple from Clyburn gave CSKA a 51-47 lead, but close-range baskets from Jeffrey Taylor and Felipe Reyes put Madrid back in front 51-54, before back-to-back triples from Causeur and Doncic capped a 0-13 run and opened a 51-60 margin, prompting a CSKA timeout. CSKA was without a field goal for more than six minutes before Hines muscled in a put-back. Hines also went coast-to-coast for a layup, but Ayon’s layup gave Madrid 56-63 going into the fourth quarter. De Colo hit a three from the right corner and Kurbanov made a steal and raced for a dunk to get CSKA within 3, but Llull knocked down a transition triple. And after Walter Tavares scored in the low post, Thompkins's corner triple opened 61-73 lead with 7:28 to go. However, Kurbanov hit a triple, then Clyburn and Hines combined to scored CSKA's next 9 points and cut the deficit to 73-76 midway through the fourth quarter. But Llull hit a tough triple, Ayon used an open lane for a dunk and Thompkins grabbed an offensive rebound that led to a layup by Ayon and 75-85 margin with 1:51 to go. After a timeout, De Colo hit a three, but a pair of offensive rebounds and a series of successful free throws kept CSKA at bay as Madrid crossed the finish line for an important victory.
Friday, May 18, 2018