CSKA Moscow steamrolled out of 2004 still holding the Euroleague's only undefeated record after stopping Benetton 72-80 on the road in a Group C clash at Palaverde in Treviso, Italy on Thursday. In raising its record to 8-0, CSKA held Benetton to just 10 points in the third quarter. Benetton dropped to 4-4 and a fourth-place tie with Tau Ceramica. Marcus Brown led four scorers in double figure for CSKA by draining 20 points. David Andersen chipped in 18, including several key points in the clutch, while Demos Dikoudis and J.R. Holden added 10 each. Dikoudis neared a double-double by pulling 9 rebounds. Four players scored in double figure for Benetton: Marlon Garnett with 15 points, Massimo Bulleri with 13, Matteo Soragna and Marcus Goree with 11 each.
After a scoreless minute, Brown got CSKA started with a three-point-play before Garnett and Marconato gave Benetton a 6-5 advantage. Two baskets by Anderson and a fastbreak triple from Antonio Granger pushed CSKA ahead 8-14. Goree tapped in a missed shot by Bulleri, Marconato blocked Granger and Bulleri scored free throws before Garnett ran ahead for a three-pointer that fired up the fans and put Benetton ahead again, 17-16. Uros Slokar extended the hosts' cushion to 24-18 but Holden ended the quarter by beating the buzzer for 3 points and a 24-21 score.
Holden returned with another triple over Benetton's 2-3 zone as did Sergey Monia from the corner as CSKA tied again, 29-29. Benetton played man-to-man defense now, while CSKA pressed fullcourt, but got beat when Bulleri went coast-to-coast. Dikoudis scored 5 points and pulled 3 offensive rebounds in the next minute, and soon Papaloukas made a layup to put CSKA ahead, 33-34. Both defenses forced bad options on would-be scorers, but Dikoudis found points again underneath before Garnett tied it 38-38 from long distance. Brown boosted CSKA back in front, 38-43, where the score stood at halftime after Marcus Goree blocked a final attempt by Theodoros Papaloukas of CSKA.
Back from the lockers, Dikoudis fueled CSKA with a three-point-play and Granger added a jumper for the first double-figure margin, 38-48. Bulleri had all 5 of Benetton's points so far in the quarter, but Brown answered with 4 to maintain a 43-52 cushion. CSKA's defense toughened again, and while Benetton struggled to score, Dikoudis and Andersen domintaed the boards. Brown made a free throw for a 44-55 scorebard, but Benetton got 4 back at the foul line to pull within 48-55. Andersen ended 2 scoreless minutes with his own pair from the foul line and CSKA hled a 48-57 lead after 30 minutes.
Slokar drove to the rim for Benetton to start the final quarter, but still Andersen answered with a turnaround jumper. He remainned unstoppable for the hosts, scoring 6 points in a 0-10 CSKA run to the biggest lead yet, 50-67 with less than 7 minutes left. CSKa immediately called timeout after a 4-0 reaction by of Benetton, after which Brown showed from downtown that his team was on track for its eighth victory without defeat. His layup soon increased the difference to 20 points, 54-74. Benetton played with pride and use a 1-3-1 zone and Matteo Soragna's triple to almost cut the difference in half, to 65-76, but too little, too late was not going to be enough to stop CSKA.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Romano Petitti, Treviso