CSKA stormed to a first-place finish in Group F of the Top 16 - and with it homecourt advantage in the best-of-three Quarterfinal Playoffs - when it downed visiting GHP Bamberg 76-64 at home in Moscow on Wednesday. CSKA raised its record to 5-0, enough to clinch first place with a week to go in the Top 16 since Lietuvos Rytas had already beaten second-place Tau Ceramica, whose record fell to 3-2. CSKA visits Tau in the last Top 16 game next week. After blasting to a first-quarter lead of 26-12 that ballooned to 50-27 at the half, CSKA held on despite an improved effort by Bamberg in the second half on Wednesday. Matjaz Smodis led the winners with 13 points, while David Vanterpool added 12 and J.R. Holden 11. Big man Alexey Savrasenko added 5 assists and 4 blocks for CSKA. Bamberg, whose record fell to 0-5, got most of its offense from guards Derrick Phelps and Demond Mallett, who scored 23 and 21 points, respectively.
Smodis got CSKA going with a three-point play as Bamberg went scoreless in the opening 3 minutes of strong defense by the hosts. Vanterpool fed Trajan Langdon for a triple and then made his own basket-plus-free throw for a 9-0 CSKA lead. Bamberg called a much-needed timeout and Spencer Nelson stepped up with a three-point play to get the guests on the board before he went to the bench with 2 fouls. Smodis stuck in a jumper but Phelps matched it in the other end. Savrasenko and Mike Nahar exchanged layups before a put-back basket by Langdon gave CSKA a 15-8 margin. Mallet hit his first triple but Langdon answered with a jumper, igniting a 9-0 run in which Papaloukas shined with a three-point play. Sergei Panov then struck from downtown to give CSKA its biggest margin so far, 26-12 after 10 minutes.
CSKA kept rolling early in the second quarter, as Papaloukas slashed for a layup and then followed Zakhar Pashutin's jumper with a dunk to make it a 20-point game, 32-12. Bamberg could not find the way to the basket, while Vanterpool hit a jumper and Smodis buried a three-pointer to push the hosts ahead by 37-12. Nelson made a free throw while Koko Archibong tried to change things with a layup for Bamberg, but Savrasenko and Vanterpool combined for 5 quick points to keep CSKA fully in charge at 42-15. Panov followed a layup with his second triple for a 32-point CSKA margin, 47-15, after a 10-0 run. Bamberg finally got back on track, as Phelps made free throws while Archibong scored inside. Meanwhile, Mallet took over with 8 unanswered points on 2 triples and a short jumper that brought the guests within 50-27 at halftime.
Mallett and Phelps helped improve things for Bamberg after halftime, combining for 6 points that cut the difference below 20, to 52-33. Chris Ensminger and Spencer Nelson added baskets next in a 0-11 run that got Bamberg back in the game at 52-38. Langdon and Smodis got back some points at the line for CSKA before a dunk by Theodoros Papaloukas and a triple by Holden restored a 63-41 lead. Robert Garrett and Phelps combined on 6 points finish the third quarter with the Bamberg back within 16 points at 63-47.
Vassily Zavoruev boosted CSKA's margin with a triple to open the final quarter. Phelps was the only player on either team to score in the next few minutes, but his personal 0-6 run only got Bamberg as close as 66-53 with under 5 minutes left. Smodis then tossed in a triple for good measure before Phelps and Mallett did the same. But a dunk by Savrasenko meant that the CSKA lead never dropped to single digits as the time ticked away for two teams headed in opposite directions.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006