CSKA Moscow certified its first place in Group E and its near-perfect 19-1 record overall in the Euroleague this season when it overwhelmed host Scavolini 66-84 on Thursday in Pesaro, Italy. CSKA finished with a 5-1 Group E mark, while Scavolini finished in second place at 3-3. First place was Scavolini's for the taking if it could have won the game by 21 points, but CSKA made no doubt about its claim, and now will face Ulker in the quarterfinals, which start next Tuesday in Moscow. Scavolini must go up against defending champion Maccabi, starting also on Tuesday in Tel Aviv. CSKA rode the great shooting of Antonio Granger to victory. He scored 16 of his 22 points in first half and makde 5 of 7 shots from long range altogether. CSKA aslo got 12 points from Martin Muursepp, 11 from Marcus Brown and 10 from David Andersen. Charles Smith scored 12 for Scavolini, while Scoonie Penn and Matteo Malaventura added 10 each.
Scavolini stepped on-court with a 5-0 run on inside baskets by Archibald and Milic around a free throw by Penn that came on a flagrant foul. CSKA remained scoreless almost 3 minutes until Demos Dikoudis sank a jumper. The visitors continued having defensive trouble, however, and Scavolini took advantage with another 5-2 run closed by Charles Smith's first three-pointer. It was 12-6 after Penn and Brown traded layups, but in the next minute, CSKA tied 12-12 on back-to-back triples by Granger and J.R. Holden, signalling a turnaround. Granger's put-back and another triple, by Martin Muursepp, pushed CSKA's run to 0-11 and gave it a sudden 12-17 lead. Smith broke a three-minute scoring drought for Scavolini with a pull-up jumper, but CSKA responded with another string of 7 unanswered points to close the quarter ahead by double digits, 14-24.
Granger hit another shot from downtown to open the second quarter. Scavolini tried to feed Archibald, but after a goal-tended bucket found difficulties as Holden ran the floor to push CSKA's advantage to 16-29. Scavolini couldn't find a fraction of the 17 three--point shots that gave them the playoff berth a week before in Barcelona, so the hosts struggled to score. It took a Tomas Ress dunk and a switch to zone defense to change the momentum, and it didn't last long as Theodoros Papaloukas drove for a basket right after a CSKA timeout. Then Granger caught fire again, burying back-to-back triples to push the lead to 23-39, to with Zakhar Pachoutine added his own shot from the arc as CSKA coasted to the lockers ahead by 26-43.
The second half started with 2 scoreless minutes as neither team could buy a basket until Smith rained a three-pointer. CSKA had an answer for that, too, a 2-11 blast in which Granger found yet another triple, his fifth, and Alexei Savrasenko served up 6 points for a huge 23-point lead, 31-54, midway through the quarter. Scavolini coach Marco Crespi tried to shake his guys by calling back-to-back timeouts but CSKA didn't stop its barrage, finding a flurry of offensive rebounds to raise a 30-point edge, 33-62, after a put-back by David Andersen. The biggest lead was yet to come, 37-68, on Brown's pair of triples late in the quarter. Hanno Mottola and Matteo Malaventura found buckets for Scavolini before the scoreboard stopped at 44-71 after 30 minutes.
The result was not in question any longer, not even after Scavolini opened the last quarter with a 6-2 run that made the score 50-73. CSKA simply rattled off a 5-10 run in response as Andersen and Sergei Monya added points before Muursepp found a three-pointer to forge a new 27-point lead, 55-83. At the end, Malaventura found a three-pointer and Teemu Rannikko a bucket-with-foul to soften the loss, before Silvio Gigena closed the game with a put-back for a 66-84 scoreboard. The star by then was the Scavolini crowd, which did not sit sadly, but spent the second half cheering and thanking its team for clinching an unexpected playoff berth.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Marco Martelli, Pesaro