2007-08Final FourSemifinal
May 02, 2008 CET: 21:00
Local time: 21:00 PAB. DEP. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID

CSKA Moscow booked a spot in its third straight Euroleague Basketball championship game by holding off Tau Ceramica 79-83 in the second semifinal of the 2008 Final Four at the Community of Madrid Sports Palace on Friday in the Spanish capital. Ramunas Siskauskas iced the game with a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left after Tau tried to rally late. Siskauskas finished with 16 points as one of five CSKA scorers in double figures. In Sunday’s final, CSKA will look for its second title in three years and sixth overall, which would rank it second all-time behind only Real Madrid. In the final, CSKA will face the team it defeated in the 2006 title game in Prague, Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv, which beat Montepaschi Siena 85-92 earlier Friday. Tau led at halftime and was up early in the fourth quarter, but Theo Papaloukas scored twice in a 0-10 CSKA charge that turned the game around. CSKA held on until the final minute, when some missed free throws from Papaloukas and triples from Pablo Prigioni and Igor Rakocevic carried Tau to within 2 with less than 10 seconds remaining. However Siskauskas was up to the task with the game on the line, setting up a classic Euroleague final between the two biggest superpowers of the decade. David Andersen missed only one shot on his way to 16 points as well for CSKA, while J.R. Holden finished with 15, Matjaz Smodis added 14 and Papaloukas 10. Rakocevic paced Tau with 19, Tiago Splitter and Zoran Planinic scored 17 points apiece and Pete Mickeal had 11 in defeat.

Tau Ceramica head coach Neven Spahija surprised everyone by starting Will McDonald to go against Andersen, who was first to score on his trademark turnaround jumper. Rakocevic and Smodis soon traded jumpers for a 2-4 CSKA lead. Planinic took over with a driving basket, but Siskauskas quickly answered in the same way. McDonald provided a highlight with a wild one-handed dunk and Rakocevic added an outstanding three-point play to give Tau its first lead at 9-6. CSKA took a timeout, after which Siskauskas stepped up with a driving layup and soon added a three-pointer to restore a 9-11 lead. Planinic tied the game with free throws, but Marcus Goree gave CSKA an 11-12 just as Papaloukas came off the bench. Splitter had a nice move in the low post, which Andersen erased with a floating layup. Goree muscled his way for another bucket and Papaloukas added free throws as the CSKA lead stretched to 13-18. Mickeal flew in for a baseline slam that charged the Tau fans and Mirza Teletovic tied the game with a triple. Smodis put CSKA back on top only for Mickeal’s jumper to knot it at 20-20 at the end of the opening period.

After a scoreless minute, Splitter got the second period going with a baby hook and then took a dish from Prigioni and added another score in the paint, causing CSKA to take a timeout. Tomas Van den Spiegel came in to fortify CSKA’s defense and Smodis drove for a basket. Trajan Langdon and Siskauskas each picked up their third fouls in rapid succession and went to the bench and free throws from Splitter and Planinic made it 27-22. A Rakocevic triple in transition soon had Tau up 6. And with Smodis serving as the only CSKA weapon on offense at this point, Tau’s big men began to focus on him even more. Despite the momentum, poor free-throw shooting by Tau prevented the club from building a formidable lead. Holden stepped up with a big three against Tau’s zone only to see Planinic match him at the other end. Holden cut away at the lead, but after a Tau timeout, baskets from McDonald and Splitter put their team ahead by 8. Holden buried another three and Splitter added a free throw to make it 39-33 at halftime.

Andersen scored inside twice as the second half got underway, however baskets by Rakocevic and Planinic kept Tau in control. Holden fired CSKA up with a triple and a steal from Rakocevic before Langdon tied the game at 43-43 with his first three of the night, resulting in a Tau timeout. CSKA regained the lead on Smodis free throws, but McDonald and Mickeal kept Tau close. Andersen stepped outside to make it 48-52 only for Planinic to drive Tau back within 2. Langdon picked up his fourth foul and found himself back on the bench again as Splitter tied the game at the other end. A Mickeal floater put Tau back on top. Siskauskas hit free throws and McDonald scored in the paint as the lead started to sway from side to side. Papaloukas’s free throws allowed CSKA to lead 56-57 heading into the fourth period.

Prigioni was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for grabbing Holden from behind on a fast break early in the fourth quarter. Despite Holden's free throws, Rakocevic tied the game with a three-pointer Tau went on top in Splitter free throws, which were the result of Siskauskas’s fourth foul. Holden tied things with an acrobatic shot and Andersen made it 61-63 with a turn-around jumper. Splitter was next to 4 fouls, his coming on the offensive end. Meanwhile Langdon sank free throws and Papaloukas scored in transition as CSKA went up 6. After a Tau timeout, CSKA defense pressured Tau and a Mickeal miss turned into a Papaloukas slam that capped a 0-10 run. McDonald scored inside, but Andersen matched that with a jumper. A Mickeal triple made it 66-71, however Langdon free throws kept CSKA in control. An Andersen jumper over Teletovic put CSKA up 9 with two-and-a-half minutes to go. Splitter made 2 from the line, but an Andersen follow slam was like a dagger to the Tau fans’ last hopes. After 2 Planinic free throws, he stole the ball and set Prigioni up for a triple that brought Tau back to life. Papaloukas made only 1 free throw and Rakocevic cut the gap to 76-80 with less than 30 seconds to go. Papaloukas again made only one from the line and a wild sequence resulted in a Rakocevic three to get within 2, but Siskauskas drew a foul and iced the game with a pair of free throws with 6.5 seconds left.

Ramunas Siskauskas - CSKA Moscow - Semifinal Tau Ceramica vs. CSKA Moscow - Final Four 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Frankie Sachs, Madrid
Referees: BRAZAUSKAS, ROMUALDAS (LTU), KOUKOULEKIDIS, STELIOS (GRE), ANKARALI, RECEP (TUR)
Attendance: 13480
By Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica20191723
CSKA Moscow20132426
End of Quarter1234
Tau Ceramica20395679
CSKA Moscow20335783
Tau Ceramica
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
5 PRIGIONI, PABLO 22:02 3   1/6   1 5 6 3 1 1     3   4
6 GARCIA, ANDER DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8 RAKOCEVIC, IGOR 27:36 19 3/6 3/5 4/5   1 1 1   3     3 3 12
9 VIDAL, SERGI 12:24     0/2     3 3 1         2 2 2
10 PLANINIC, ZORAN 33:17 17 5/5 1/3 4/4   1 1 4 2 2     4 3 19
11 FERNANDEZ, LUCHO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
12 TELETOVIC, MIRZA 25:30 3 0/1 1/4     1 1           3 1 -2
13 JASAITIS, SIMAS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
15 SINGLETON, JAMES 2:50                         3   -3
21 SPLITTER, TIAGO 27:10 17 5/7   7/14   3 3 1 2 1 1   5 12 21
33 MICKEAL, PETE 25:59 11 4/6 1/1   2 3 5 1   1     3 2 13
45 MCDONALD, WILL 23:12 9 4/5   1/2 2 4 6   1   1   3 2 14
Team                   1 2         -1
Totals 200:00 79 21/30 7/21 16/25 5 21 26 11 7 10 2 0 29 25 79
        70% 33.3% 64%
Head coach: SPAHIJA, NEVEN
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
CSKA Moscow
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
4 PAPALOUKAS, THEODOROS 25:52 10 2/4   6/8   4 4     3     4 4 7
6 ZISIS, NIKOS 13:22           1 1     1     1   -1
8 SMODIS, MATJAZ 25:20 14 5/9 0/7 4/5 3 3 6   1 2   1 3 5 8
9 SISKAUSKAS, RAMUNAS 20:21 16 3/4 1/4 7/8 2   2 1   1     4 6 15
10 HOLDEN, J.R. 38:23 15 2/7 3/4 2/2   1 1 3 2     1 2 3 15
11 PASHUTIN, ZAKHAR DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13 ANDERSEN, DAVID 26:28 16 8/8 0/1 0/1 1 3 4 1         4 3 18
21 LANGDON, TRAJAN 22:45 9 1/1 1/2 4/4 1 2 3   1       4 3 11
22 GOREE, MARCUS 20:41 3 1/2   1/4 1 1 2   1       1 4 5
23 SHVED, ALEXEY DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
24 VAN DEN SPIEGEL, TOMAS 3:14                         1 1  
31 KHRYAPA, VICTOR 3:34     0/1                   1   -2
Team           1 5 6   2 1         7
Totals 200:00 83 22/35 5/19 24/32 9 20 29 5 7 8 0 2 25 29 83
        62.9% 26.3% 75%
Head coach: MESSINA, ETTORE

Head Coaches

SPAHIJA, NEVEN
Tau Ceramica
“I would like to congratulate CSKA Moscow. It's not a shame to lose to them. They are a great team. But I would like to congratulate my team. We lost our concentration in one stage and that was the difference. But in the end, I think they deserve this final. I told my players that they are very strong after halftime and that they have to watch out. My power forward had three fouls and I took the risk of playing the start of the second half with two big guys and they got two inside baskets right away. We still played until the end and fought. So I don't think the beginning of the second half decided the game. CSKA is such a strong team. You can't keep them down.”
MESSINA, ETTORE
CSKA Moscow
”It was a very difficult game. Tau came in extremely prepared in the first half to take away our inside game. They broke all of our offense. And we didn't have the coordination between the inside and outside game. And we got nervous. The good thing is that we did not change anything from the first half. In the second half we had a lot of balance on the inside and outside. We had a lot of guys who worked hard on one side or the other. Now we are very tired and happy. For a few seconds at halftime I thought about changing something in our strategy. But I didn't think it was fair to change. If we didn't do something well, we just had to do it better. And if we made any changes then all the things we believe every day would be crushed.”

“It's very special to be back in the final. I have been very lucky to be in the final seven times. And it's especially special at this Final Four since it's the celebration of 50 years of the Final Four. So things here have been very delicate from a psychological and physical standpoint. Now we just have to focus on Sunday because if we win it will be something extremely big. It will be a final of two distinguished teams.”

“I felt a little bit like a young kid after the ceremony. I was a little bit lost for some part of the warm-up and some part of the game because of the ceremony. I have no problem saying that. But to see so many heroes was something that really really made me like this. I felt like a kid at Disneyland seeing so many of my idols and having my family in the stands. It took away a little bit of my concentration.”

Players

MCDONALD, WILL
Tau Ceramica
”I said it yesterday and I also said it this morning. This is a game that you have to be intense for 40 minutes. The first time that we let up is going to cost us. This is what happened in our regular season game in Moscow. We did not play hard for three minutes and that cost us. CSKA is a team that you need to play very well to beat them and you cannot give it a chance. We had a chance to win from the beginning of the game, everybody was motivated and ready to win and we played well, but it was not enough. Of course, we want to win the Third Place game on Sunday. Nobody comes here to lose and have to win the next game. We came here to win games.”
MICKEAL, PETE
Tau Ceramica
”It is a great experience to be in the Final Four and we are not done, we have another game to play and my head is not down. I don't feel like we lost the game. I don't feel bad at all. We could have played a little better, but that is the way it goes. Sometimes the referees call it your way, sometimes they don't. You have to play hard no matter what and have the chance to win the game. Last season Tau lost the third-place game against Unicaja. We finished fourth last season and we will try to finish third this season. We have no other choice.”
VIDAL, SERGI
Tau Ceramica
“It was a close game and I think we did a good job. We fought until the last second. We just had a couple plays that didn't work. We played good defense. But we made some fouls and kind of got mad and lost our patience. The key was to keep the same level from the beginning to the end. But we just couldn't do it for some times.”
SPLITTER, TIAGO
Tau Ceramica
“It was a very tough game. It's frustrating we came so close, but didn't get the win. We fought hard, but CSKA is a very good team. They played better in the second half and managed to get a few advantages. There were some strange things in the last quarter, and they played very aggressive. Now we need to end this season with a win on Sunday. I hope we'll find the power to get ourselves together and beat Montepaschi.”
PLANINIC, ZORAN
Tau Ceramica
"We played very good in the first half, we did what the coach asked us to do and everything went as planned, but in the second half we didn't play as tough as we should on defense and they took advantage of it. You’ve got to give them credit. A lot of the players on this team won a title already. They know how to make it done, and we suffered from that today."
VAN DEN SPIEGEL, TOMAS
CSKA Moscow
“It was not our best game, I think, but we got to win it and that is the most important thing. You know that if you lose in the Final Four, you run out of chances to win, so we prepared the game well, some of our guys hit some big shots and really step up in the second half. We won, and now we want to win again on Sunday. Theo Papaloukas stepped up, but J.R. Holden kept us in the game and played incredible defense. David Andersen came up with some big shots down the stretch, so everybody contributed. We had five guys in double figures, which shows it was a team effort tonight. We face Maccabi in the final for the second time in three years. Both are two great organizations and looks like it will be like an away game for us. We have to be ready for it.”
PAPALOUKAS, THEODOROS
CSKA Moscow
“We knew it would be a tough game. The first half was not very good. Tau completely controlled the game. But J.R. Holden made some big shots at the end of the first half. Then we started the second half with two or three great shots and some strong defense. We came back into the game and just showed our character. They are a great team. But we are experienced and we know how to play this kind of game. Coach told us at halftime to just keep believing in what we have been doing for the past three years. We are still in the game and it's not clever to change something at halftime. We just have to believe in what we do. If we lose, then we have to lose in our way. If we play like we can then we cannot lose. I cannot talk about the final now. Let me rest my mind and then we will look at them on Saturday.”
ZISIS, NIKOS
CSKA Moscow
“Tau deserves credit, they were really well prepared and played a very good game. I think we were completely out of our game in the first half. J.R. Holden made some big plays when they could have got a 10-point lead. If he didn't, maybe it would have been a very different game. We played better in the second half, but the game wasn't easy for us in offense. Tau is always a hard team to play against. In these kinds of games, big plays are always important. We need to have some rest, especially those guys who played a lot of minutes. It is going to be a big game. Maccabi has a lot of fans in here that give the team an extra boost. On the other hand, CSKA already beat Maccabi in the 2006 Final Four in Prague, with a lot of Maccabi fans there. Whoever is more focused will win the final.”
SISKAUSKAS, RAMUNAS
CSKA Moscow
"The first half wasn't so good and we didn't do what we had to do, I don't know why. The referees didn't let us play tough tonight and were calling fouls on every touch, so we had to adjust to how they judged. In the first half we got too many fouls, I think. Maybe we were too excited, because a semifinal is maybe more important mentally than a final. If you win the semifinal, it's easier in the final, but I am glad that in the second half tonight we did a pretty good job. Now, it's going to be a tough final, not easier than today's semifinal. Maccabi will have all their spectators. They are going to play like a home game. The gym is full of their fans. Of course, we'll try to win the game and get another title, but as I said, it's sure going to be tough. But we have one day to prepare."
HOLDEN, J.R.
CSKA Moscow
“It was a hard-fought game right from the beginning. Tau is really a great team. We got our work cut out for us. I think we played well tonight. For the final, I just think we really have to play defense. Like we always say, defense wins championships. Tonight, for 40 minutes, both teams battled. But there were a lot of things that we still need to work on – inside and outside. But like I said, it was gonna be the team with the most inside points and I think we did well to get inside points in the second half. You always have to work hard for the first five minutes after halftime and set the tone so that you get a lead so that when they come back, you can afford their run. I think that was crucial for us.”
SMODIS, MATJAZ
CSKA Moscow
"I think that our experience from the previous Final Fours helped us a lot. We knew we would raise our level if we didn't play the second half like we had the first one. We just believed in ourselves. The secon half was a completely different approach and I think in the end that's what decided the game. maybe also Tau got a little scared of actually winning a big semifinal again. Like I said before game, in the end, the little details decided it, because even when they were down 10 or 11, they still showed character and came back and never gave up until, basically, the last ball. I give a lot of credit to Tau, but we pulled it off one more time."

"Once we're in trouble, we don't hide behind responsibility or back down or get scared of big shots or whatever. We just kind of stick together, which I think is a good qualty of this team, especially in hard times. When we're backed up against the wall, we show heart, we show team chemistry. Especially in the second half, we played better on defense, which I think was crucial in this game."
LANGDON, TRAJAN
CSKA Moscow
“Tau played a good game, it is a great basketball team. We knoew we were playing a tough game coming in, because we played against them twice and they knew hot to attack us. We made good plays and got off to a good start. We are fortunate that J.R. Holden hit some big shots to keep the game tight in the first half. We came out after the break and played the basketball that we want. Even when they made big plays in the end, we came out with the win. Maccabi and CSKA are two of the top basketball organizations in Europe, with very talented teams and great coaches. The final will have two teams playing good basketball. Right now, Maccabi has played the best basketball of the season. We know they can score the ball, as they had 92 points in the semifinal, so we will have to put a lot of defensive effort. We will try to get some rest tonight, because there is not much time for anything in the Final Four. This is what makes it exciting: Both teams haven't seen each other all year. We will try to play to our strength and it should be fun to play against them.”
GOREE, MARCUS
CSKA Moscow
"What made the difference in the second half is that we just started to play tougher and better defense. We expected them to play that tough and to give us a lot of problems. It wasn't easy to beat them tonight, but the key thing is that we managed to do that. Now we have the finals in front of us and it's going to be sweet. Surely it's interesting for me to face Maccabi again, but I just want to win it."