In large part thanks to a new Top 16 rebounding record, CSKA improved to 2-0 in Group D by beating Cibona VIP 68-61 in Moscow on Wednesday night in a tough test. CSKA gets closer to its biggest goal this season, which is making it to the Final Four, while Cibona, at 0-2, will need to win its 4 games remaining to make it to the next round. CSKA based its win under the boards, outrebounding its opponents by 45-20. One man excelled above everyone else, CSKA's Mirsad Turkcan, who set a all-time Top 16 record with 21 rebounds, adding 15 points. Turkcan's rebound total was just two rebounds shy of his overall Euroleague record of 23. J. R. Holden and Marcus Brown added 12 points apiece for the winners, as Brown also dished 9 assists. Slaven Rimac led all Cibona scorers with 19 points on 4 of 5 two-pointers, 3 of 5 threes and 2 of 2 free throws, while four other players scored 7 points for the guests.
CSKA dominated the game in the early going, as Turkcan seemed to be everywhere at both ends of the court, grabbing 5 rebounds in the opening 5 minutes. Meanwhile, a three-pointer by Holden gave CSKA a 7-2 lead, but none of the hosts' baskets came the easy way, as CSKA needed second and third chances to score. Rimac immediately answered from downtown and Cibona got back in the game. The guests committed 4 early turnovers, but CSKA went scoreless for almost 2 minutes, while 2 free throws by Rimac and a fastbreak layup by Marko Popovic tied the game at 9-9 after 6 minutes. Turkcan carried on grabbing rebounds while high-flying Victor Khryapa stepped up with a two-handed slam, and Brown added 2 free throws to give CSKA a 13-9 lead. However, while CSKA missed its final 8 shots from the floor, Cibona had the final word in this quarter. A layup by Jurica Golemac and a three-pointer by Popovic gave Cibona a 13-14 lead after 10 minutes.
CSKA's offensive collapse - after 3 of 15 two-pointers and 1 of 7 threes in the opening quarter - continued with 2 more scoreless minutes to start the second. A back-door basket by Josip Vrankovic extended Cibona's lead to 13-16. CSKA improved its defense, then a layup by Turkcan and a triple by Khryapa regained the local lead at 18-16. Several lead changes followed, as Cibona switched from zone to man-to-man defense to prevent Turkcan from rebounding on offense. It didn't work, as his 14th rebound of the night turned into a put-back, igniting a 6-0 run in which Sergei Panov made a left-handed layup and assisted Theodoros Papaloukas for a fastbreak slam and a 26-21 CSKA lead . After a timeout, Cibona responded with a long jumper by Rimac and a three-pointer from the top of the arc by Davor Kus, highlighing a 2-7 run which tied the game at 28-28. Papaloukas, with a fastbreak layup, gave CSKA a 30-28 lead at halftime, by which time the hosts had more offensive rebounds (15) than Cibona had total rebounds (11).
Panov became CSKA's go-to guy after halftime, scoring 5 points alone to extend the lead to 35-28. Cibona went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Golemac drilled a triple, which Brown answered with a three-point play at the other end. Both teams struggled to score, exchanging turnovers until Andrej Stimac, with a layup, made it a five-point game at 40-35. It happened to be Cibona's only basket in more than 2 minutes, while a turnaround jumper by Alexander and 5 points by Brown were enough to give CSKA a double-digit lead at 47-35. Both teams traded baskets while Turkcan returned to the floor and carried on rebounding like crazy. After Cibona had suffered 7 turnovers for the quarter, a dunk by Josko Poljak cut CSKA's lead to 52-42 after 30 minutes.
To start the last quarter, Cibona seemed intimidated by the aggressive man-to-man defense of CSKA, which used two baskets by Turkcan to keep a safe lead. Cibona seemed to wake up once Rimac drilled a three-pointer to pull his team within 7 points at 56-49. Still, Turkcan was on fire, while Rimac was the guests' only consistent offensive weapon. CSKA looked for its frontcourt units, Alexander and Turkcan, who combined for 5 points, while Cibona stayed alive with a bomb from downtown by Barisa Krasic and a layup by Popovic, making the score 63-59, with less than 3 minutes to go. Brown stepped up for CSKA with a layup in penetration which Krasic answered in the other end with 38 seconds to go. Cibona's coach, Drazen Anzulovic, complained about a problem on the shot clock, and discussed the matter with the referees, believing CSKA was given 6 extra seconds on the possession. The discussion turned into a double technical foul called on Cibona's bench, and Brown drilled 3 of 4 free throws, enough to seal the win for the hosts.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Maria Kravchenko, Moscow