|CSKA Moscow advanced to the Euroleague title game for the fourth year in a row by knocking off Regal FC Barcelona 78-82 on Friday evening in the opening game of the 2009 Euroleague Basketball Final Four at the o2 World in Berlin. Ramunas Siskauskas was the hero after scoring 18 of his career-high 29 points in the fourth quarter – including all the points in a 0-11 run that gave CSKA its first lead. The champs will next face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Greek rivals Olympiacos and Panathinaikos in the championship game. The club will try to become the seventh to win back-to-back Euroleague crowns, a feat last accomplished by Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2004-05. CSKA also targets its seventh Euroleague title, which would bring it within one of Real Madrid for the most ever, while head coach Ettore Messina seeks his fifth title, which would place him alone in second place behind only Zeljko Obradovic on the all-time coaching list. Barcelona started strong and led by double figures already in the opening quarter, but CSKA never folded and saved its best for last. Trajan Langdon added 15 for the champs and Viktor Khryapa posted 9 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals. Former CSKA star David Andersen paced Barcelona with 24 points and Jaka Lakovic and Juan Carlos Navarro netted 13 apiece in defeat.
Messina used an unexpected lineup with Khryapa in his starting five instead of Siskauskas, who came off the bench for just the third time this season. Andersen got Barcelona going with a baseline jumper before Langdon tied the game. CSKA had trouble hitting shots while Lakovic stepped up with a running triple and Navarro buried one from downtown for an 8-2 Barcelona lead. Langdon answered with a jumper only to see Lakovic nail his second three-pointer. Andersen joined the three-point shootout, causing CSKA to call a much-needed timeout at 14-4. J.R. Holden tried to change things with a fallaway jumper off the dribble, but a layup-plus-foul by Daniel Santiago made it an 11-point game. CSKA tried a new frontline with Siskauskas, Terence Morris and Sasha Kaun together on court. Barcelona did not allow easy shots, but CSKA tried to change things with a fast break dunk off a steal. Roger Grimau came through with a driving layup, but free throws by Kaun and an easy basket by Siskauskas got CSKA within 19-12. Andersen fed Lubos Barton for a layup that restored a 21-12 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes.
CSKA tried a tall lineup early in the second quarter with Siskauskas and Khryapa at the wings. Matjaz Smodis scored inside and Kaun provided a highlight with a slam that got his team within 21-16. Khryapa also threw one down off a steal, leading Barcelona head coach Xavi Pascual to call timeout to stop a 0-6 run. Lakovic stepped up with a fast break layup, but CSKA had adjusted its man-to-man defense with Kaun as its key player. Andersen beat the shot clock with a turnaround jumper that gave his team some fresh air at 25-18. Smodis hit a layup off a CSKA timeout, but soon Fran Vazquez erased it with a dunk. Langdon made free throws on Navarro's third foul. Lakovic came through with a long bomb. This time Smodis answered from downtown to keep CSKA within 30-25. Siskauskas sank free throws and a triple by Holden tied it at 30-30. Basile buried 2 foul shots and Santiago added a power layup to put their team back ahead, 34-30. Langdon beat the shot clock with a long jumper but a buzzer-beating put-back basket by Andersen - that had to be double-checked through instant replay - fixed the halftime score at 36-32.
Andersen fired in a three-pointer to start the second half and Grimau collected a steal and raced downcourt for a dunk for a 41-32 Barcelona lead. Lorbek picked up his first points on a jump hook and soon added a power layup to bring CSKA back to life. Andersen provided a great assist to Santiago, but Langdon and a baseline jumper by Khryapa got CSKA even closer. Barcelona tried to improve its offense with Navarro and Vazquez on court now. Vazquez scored on a tip-in, however Lorbek bettered him with a three-point play. Navarro shined with his trademark floating layup - 'la bomba' - which Langdon matched with a mid-range jumper. Free throws by Siskauskas soon made it a one-point game. Andersen rescued Barcelona with a three-point play, but a driving layup by Langdon kept CSKA within 50-48. Navarro made free throws only to see Lorbek and a big triple by Siskauskas tie it again at 52-52. Andersen beat the shot clock with a smooth turnaround jumper that Siskauskas erased with a reverse layup. Santiago made free throws to put Barcelona back ahead, 56-54, after 30 minutes.
The game turned into a physical battle early in the fourth quarter and Barcelona made the most out of it. Smodis sank a floating layup to finish a two-chance offense, but Andersen scored again for a 58-56 Barcelona lead. CSKA opted to slow down the game tempo with Zoran Planinic and Holden together on court, but it couldn't create good shots. At the other end, a red-hot Andersen nailed an open three-pointer. But after a timeout, CSKA took the upper hand. Siskauskas buried back-to-back three-pointers to give CSKA its first lead, 61-62, with less than seven minutes remaining. Siskauskas continued to shine, adding free throws. Lakovic struggled to call the right plays against Holden and Planinic, so Pascual opted to use Victor Sada in crunch time. Siskauskas buried another bomb from downtown for a 61-67 CSKA edge, capping a 0-11 run in which he had all the points. Basile beat the shot clock with a wild triple, but Siskauskas answered with an acrobatic basket. Vazquez and Khryapa traded dunks as CSKA kept a 66-72 lead. Navarro nailed a big three-pointer, as CSKA tried to run the clock down now. Siskauskas downed free throws, however Ersan Ilyasova’s fadeaway jumper kept Barcelona as close as 71-74 with 1:40 to go. Langdon banked in a critical put-back jumper, but Navarro quickly answered from downtown, 74-76. Siskauskas provided a highlight with a fallaway jumper and collected a steal that allowed Holden to seal the outcome with free throws, 74-80, with 21.9 seconds to go. Andersen added 2 free throws with 15 seconds left, but Barcelona was stuck fouling to stop the clock and Holden and Siskauskas made free throws to wrap up the win.
Friday, May 01, 2009