CSKA wrapped up first place in Group C and raised the possibility of becomeing the first undefeated team in Euroleague Regular Season history when it downed visiting Ulker 90-77 at home in Moscow on Wednesday. David Andersen came off the bench to score 13 of his 22 points after halftime as CSKA pulled away to an 11-0 record. CSKA's scoring was 23 more points than Ulker, with the Euroleague's best defense, gave up on average going into the game. No team has finished undefeated over the course of any regular season since the Euroleague was founded in 2000-01. Marcus Brown added 14 points and J.R. Holden 12 for the winners, most of those in the first half, while Sergei Monya put in 10. Ulker, whose record dropped to 6-5, was led against by Serkan Erdogan, whose 23 points included 5 three-pointers. Kerem Tunceri added 15 for Ulker, while Eurelijus Zukauskas and Saulius Stombergas had 12 each but were largely silent after halftime.
It was a high-octane clash from thestart, with Zukauskas getting Ulker started with a turnaround shot on the left block. After Holden made a steal and breakaway layup, however, CSKA had 13-10 lead midway through the quarter. Stombergas was hot for Ulker early, and his three-pointer from the left wing cut the CSKA lead to 21-20 late in the quarter. After Holden struck back for CSKA, Stombergas drove for a basket-plus-free throw to give the visitors a 23-23 tie with 42.8 seconds remaining. That was enough, however, for Holden to drive and got fouled, hitting both free throws to secure a 25-23 lead for CSKA after 10 minutes.
Dimos Dikoudis hit a long two-pointer to start the second quarter for CSKA, but Ulker wasn't going anywhere. A Zukauskas jump hook and a layin by Kerem Tunceri soon had the visitors tied again, 27-27. Andersen kept CSKA ahead with a mid-range jumper. Ulker switched to a zone defense, but Andersen took advantage of that with a foul-line jumper before Zukauskas made a similar shot to tie the score again. Now, CSKA went to a zone also. While Ulker's shooters went cold, Dikoudis soon slammed in an offensive rebound and a layup by Brown counted due to goaltending for a 36-31 CSKA advantage after 16 minutes. Finally, Erdogan started heating up for Ulker with a three-pointer from the wing to give Ulker the lead it hadn's seen since shortly after tipoff, 41-42. After a CSKA timeout, Andersen put the hosts back ahead with free throws, and then Papaloukas rewarded an ovation from the Moscow crowd for his entrance by blocking shots by both Erdogan and Stombergas down the stretch and assisting Sergei Monya on a fastbreak layup that had the hosts ahead again, 45-42, at the break.
CSKA gradually built its lead in the third quarter, as Ulker struggled against the home team's zone defense, despite the efforts of Serkan, who singlehandedly kept his club in the game. Monya electrified the crowd with a baseline dunk midway through the quarter. With 28 minutes gone, Andersen made a driving layup and Martin Muursepp a triple from the corner as the lead reached double digits at 68-57. Tunceri hit back with a three-pointer from the left corner to bring Ulker back within 68-60, but CSKA added to its lead with free throws by Andersen to take a 70-60 lead after 30 minutes.
Needing a rally to start the fourth quarter, Ulker still had trouble breaking the CSKA zone. Andersen rebounded and put back in a wild shot by Brown, then made the free throw that came with it for a 73-60 lead. A minute later, after a Dikoudis jumper, Monya drained a three-pointer from the right corner for the biggest advantage yet, 78-60. CSKA continued to stifle the visitors with its zone defense, forcing a 24-second violation and an Ulker timeout with just under 7 minutes left. Little changed, however, as the CSKA lead hit 82-65 on free throws by Papaloukas with 5 minutes left. From a strong first-half challenge from one of the hottest teams in the league lately, CSKA was now working on one of its biggest home wins of the season, coasting to the finish and more questions as to when, or if, anyone can stop this team.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Carl Schreck, Moscow