CSKA captures 8th straight VTB crown
CSKA Moscow completed its magical season by winning the VTB United League crown in a 3-0 sweep of crosstown rival Khimki Moscow Region. The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions won the third game 62-80 behind 23 points from Cory Higgins. Othello Hunter posted 15 points and 8 rebounds and Nikita Kurbanov was worth 12 points, 6 boards and 5 assists for the winners. The title was the eighth straight VTB championship and ninth overall for CSKA, which made 11 of 24 three-point shots (45.8%) while holding Khimki to 4 for 18 from downtown (22.2%). Khimki kept it close early and led 14-13 after a Charles Jenkins layup late in the first quarter. CSKA scored the next 5 points to for a 14-18 edge after 10 minutes. Khimki was within 3 midway through the second quarter, however, Semen Antonov and Higgins combined to score all the points in a 0-11 surge that gave the visitors a 28-43 halftime cushion and from there CSKA coasted the rest of the way. Viacheslav Zaitcev scored 22 to lead Khimki and Jordan Mickey added 12 points in defeat.
Maccabi advances to Israeli championship game
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv outlasted Hapoel Eilat 85-83 in the first game of the Israeli League Final Four to advance to the championship game, where it will face Maccabi Rishon Lezion. Scottie Wilbekin paced the winners with 21 points, Johnny O'Bryant posted 15 points and Michael Roll added 12. J.P. Tokoto paced Eilat with 22 points on near-perfect shooting, Suleiman Braimoh netted 16 off the bench and Elijah Bryant scored 13. Wilbekin and Jake Cohen led an early 8-0 run to give Maccabi the lead, but Tokoto tied it with a dunk, 8-8. Maccabi twice extended the margin out to 7, however, Braimoh closed the deficit to 22-20 and that's how it stood after 10 minutes. Tokoto tied the scored twice in the opening minutes of the second quarter and Jonathan Skjoldebrand heated up later with a pair of three-pointers to give Eilat a 31-32 edge. Maccabi scored the last 5 points of the half to head into the locker room with a 42-37 advantage. Eilat came back to tie things at 48-48 on Bryant free throws midway through the third quarter, but threes by O'Bryant and John Dibartolomeo helped Maccabi maintain a 60-56 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Maccabi extended the difference to 8 with a basket-plus-foul by O'Bryant and another triple by Dibartolomeo early in the deciding quarter. Rafi Menko and Braimoh quickly cut the deficit to 70-69. A three by Wilbekin gave Maccabi an 82-75 lead with less than 2 minutes to go, but Eilat rallied to within1 and had the ball under the basket down 2 with 2 seconds remaining, but Avi Ben-Chimol's inbounds pass was deflected and Eilat did not get a shot off. Maccabi Rishon Lezion rallied from a double-digit deficit to eliminate Hapoel Jerusalem 86-92. Diamon Simpson starred with 28 points and 20 rebounds for the winners.
Zvezda edges Partizan in Serbian finals opener
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade edged archrival Partizan NIS Belgrade 98-94 in the opening game of the best-of-five Serbian League finals. Dejan Davidovac scored half of his team-high 20 points in the final 3 and a half minutes to lead Zvezda to victory. Filip Covic added 18 points and 5 assists, Ognjen Dobric netted 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown, Borisa Simanic added 14 points, Jimmy Baron 12 and Michael Ojo 11. Alex Renfroe paced Partizan with 20 points, Novica Velickovic scored 17, Marcus Paige 12 and Vanja Marinkovic and Ognjen Jaramaz 11 each. Zvezda jumped out to a 12-5 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by Davidovac and Baron and extended the margin to double figures on a triple by Dobric that made it 23-13. Renfroe led Partizan on a 0-7 run to get back in the game, but Covic recorded a block, assist and 2 free throws in the final 2 minutes of the opening quarter to make it 30-22. Partizan twice closed the gap to 3 in the second quarter, but Davidovac capped an 8-0 run with a triple for a 47-36 Zvezda cushion. Nikola Jankovic drew Partizan within 48-40 at the break. Ojo twice put Zvezda up by 11 in the third quarter before back-to-back threes by Paige rallied Partizan to 56-52. Twice Partizan cut the margin to 3 and finished the third quarter down 73-68. A three by Covic restored a double-digit margin, 81-71, but Partizan fought back to lead 83-84 on Renfroe free throws. Davidovac put Zvezda back on top, soon added a triple and his 4 free throws in the final minute put the game on ice.
Greece: Panathinaikos dominates Game 1 in finals
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens pounded Promitheas Patras 103-77 in Game 1 of the best-of-five Greek League finals. Matt Lojeski scored 16 points off the bench and Nick Calathes delivered 11 points and 13 assists to lead the winners. DeShaun Thomas scored 13 and Georgios Papagiannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo had 10 points apiece. All 12 Panathinaikos players scored at least two baskets. The Greens never trailed, even though it was still close, 24-18, after 10 minutes. However, Panathinaikos took the margin to 52-31 at halftime and 82-51 through three quarters to put the game away early. Tony Meier led Promitheas with 13 points and Petros Geromichalos had 11 in defeat.
Real sweeps Valencia in Spanish semifinals
Real Madrid completed a 3-0 sweep of Valencia Basket in the Spanish League semifinals with a 78-85 victory at Pabellon Fuente de San Luís. Rudy Fernandez led the charge with 16 points, Anthony Randolph posted 11 points and 9 rebounds and Facu Campazzo, Gustavo Ayon and Jeffery Taylor netted 10 points apiece. Bojan Dubljevic scored a game-high 19 points for Valencia, Sam Van Rossom contributed 14 and Will Thomas and Joan Sastre had 11 apiece. The game featured a lot of back-and-forth action. Valencia scored the game's first 5 points and led 10-3 before Real took control to lead 15-20 on a Randolph slam. Mike Tobey drew Valencia within 19-20 after 10 minutes. Valencia led by as many as 6 points in the second quarter and went into halftime ahead 38-35. Real scored the first 4 points of the third quarter and proceeded to lead for most of the second half. The scoreboard stood at 60-63 after three quarters and Real took its biggest lead, 72-79, on a Felipe Reyes tip-in with 3 minutes to go. Van Rossom scored 6 straight points to give Valencia hope, but Sergio Llull and Campazzo scored on the next two possessions and Real held on to win the game and series.
Venice strikes first in Italian finals
Umana Reyer Venice held off Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 72-70 in Game 1 of the team's Italian League finals series. MarQuez Haynes scored 15 points and Mitchell Watt added 14 to lead the winners. Tyrus McGee led Sassari with 19 points and Rashawn Thomas posted 13 points and 9 rebounds. McGee scored half the points in a 0-8 Sassari finish to the first half, which saw the visitors lead 29-37 at the break. Dyshawn Pierre extended the Sassari lead to 34-47 in the third quarter. Venice went on a 10-0 tear to finish the third quarter with a 54-52 edge. The game was tied at 68-68 heading into the final minute. Julyan Stone scored the go-ahead three-pointer for Venice. Sassari had a last chance to tie it, however, Marco Spissu missed on the buzzer.