Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow finished its trip to China in style, riding the hot hand of reigning EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo and defeating Guangdong Tigers 75-101 in Shenzhen on Friday. It was the second win in as many games for CSKA on the Euroleague Basketball China Tour and another game in which De Colo played the lead role. He scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the first half to help CSKA take the lead for good in the second quarter and build a double-digit lead before halftime. CSKA, which was without Cory Higgins and Kyle Hines, had three scorers in double figures in addition to De Colo: Nikita Kurbanov and Vitaly Fridzon tallied 12 points apiece and James Augustine scored all of his 10 points in the third quarter. Zhao Rui had 19 points for Guangdong, Donald Sloan added 15 and Dong Hanlin 14 in defeat.
The Tigers had the better opening to the game, with Zhu Fangyu and Tommy Mitchell combining to score 11 points on the way to a 13-5 lead early on. However, after Milos Teodosic entered the game, things on the scoreboard started to change. De Colo and Kurbanov cut the gap, before Fridzon’s basket-plus-foul gave CSKA the lead for good and helped it to a 21-25 edge after 10 minutes. The EuroLeague champs started getting into a rhythm in the second quarter and Teodosic showed his magic with a couple of impossible assists to the delight of the fans. A collective offensive contribution helped CSKA pull away, before a 0-9 run capped by a basket from De Colo put CSKA ahead 29-45. De Colo and Jeff Ayers combined to score 17 points in the second quarter, and Coach Itoudis’s men went into halftime up 34-49.
CSKA kept control on the floor and on the scoreboard in the third quarter, quickly breaking the 20-point barrier. Rui and Hanlin hit back-to-back threes, and the hosts managed to get within 49-62 midway through the third. But CSKA paced by Augustine kept Guangdong at bay, before pulling away once again by scoring 11 unanswered points to finish the third quarter and take a 53-75 margin into the final quarter. Kurbanov continued the work in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 59-84. Rui and Sloan stopped the leaking for Guangdong, but CSKA continued to dominate and Mikhail Kulagin beat the buzzer to finish the game and get CSKA over the century mark.
Dimitris Itoudis, head coach, CSKA Moscow
"We came here with several injuries, but we started the game very sloppy. That was obvious in the first three minutes, exactly three minutes, when at the timeout the score was 17-9. No. 1 of the opponent’s team [Tommy Mitchell] scored already 10 points and we were sloppy defensively; This is obvious. But after that timeout, we got more serious defensively and they scored only 4 points the next seven minutes, which shows the difference in between how we started the game. With all the respect to the opponent, it was our lack of effort on the defensive end. Then we got more serious and we controlled most of the game. But I believe if I would compare the two games, the Tigers are a very serious team. I like the way they play. I would dare to say though they are playing close to European basketball. They drive, they kick, they have extra passes, they move the ball pretty well. They have some good players. I wish them the best of luck."
Jeff Ayres, CSKA Moscow
"I think it was a great game as a team. We started off the first quarter a little rough, but we came together. Started playing our style of basketball and the rest is history. Getting over the jetlag has been a little tough, a lot of travel, but it’s been good. I feel like today was the best game that I’ve played so far and I just want to keep improving in every game and every practice and this was a good start."