A giant fell in Group B to start Week 5 on Wednesday as Skipper Bologna ended CSKA's undefeated season with an end-of-game rally for a 70-71 road win in Moscow. Hanno Mottola's 2 free throws with 4.6 seconds left completed a 2-12 finishing run for Skipper after CSKA had led by 9 points with 3 minutes to play. Skipper is back in the middle of the pack in Group B at 2-3 after the win, while CSKA momentarily lost its grasp on first place, falling to 4-1. Gianmarco Pozzecco stepped in for injured Milos Vujanic and guided Skipper with 23 points and 5 assists. Matjaz Smodis scored 15 points, while Carlos Delfino registered a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. CSKA was led by guards Marcus Brown and JR Holden, who had 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Mirsad Turkcan contributed 9 points and 15 rebounds. CSKA struggled with its perimeter shooting and trailed 43-50 towards the end of the third quarter before it knocked down 7 of its final 13 three-point attempts and came back to grab a 68-61 lead with 4:30 remaining in the game. Skipper reeled off 8 straight points over the last 3 minutes, however, before Mottola drew a foul with 4 seconds remaining and then canned the winning free throws.
CSKA did not need much time to warm up to the task. The hosts started strong, finding various solutions against Skipper's zone defense on the way to sizable early leads. Holden scored 5 quick points, but just as important were his assists. In the middle of the quarter, Holden fed Alexander free under the basket to set the score at 13-6. Skipper's struggles started to change then with a three-point play by Smodis that sent the visitors off on a huge 2-14 run that finished with them leading by 15-20. Pozzecco contributed 3 assists and Smodis scored 9 points during that run. Several of those points came off CSKA turnovers as the hosts threw away the ball while hurrying to score ahead of the Skipper zone. By the end of the quarter, CSKA had 7 turnovers in the statistics sheet. CSKA came back to tie the score after a Holden triple, which made it 20-20. The quarter finished with the score tied at 22-22 after Mirsad Turkcan, who had 7 rebounds in the first 10 minutes, downed 2 free throws that teenager Marco Belinelli matched for Skipper at the other end.
If the first quarter was was fast and spectacular, the second quarter was nothing like it. Belinelli started it off with a three-pointer that put Skipper back in front, but after that, neither team could not score a point for more than 4 minutes. That particular spell of defense, with Skipper still using its zone, gave the visitors more confidence, while CSKA has almost come to expect to stop opponents on its own floor. Another Holden triple tied it 25-25 halfway through the quarter, and when Alexander finished a fastbreak, CSKA had the lead back, 29-28. Skipper gave itself an opportunity to take control on the strength of 3 offensive rebounds by Smodis. But the visitors couldn't capitalize from the free throw line, as Tomas Van Den Spiegel missed 3 of 4 and Carlos Delfino 2 of 4 attempts. In contrast, CSKA used 2 good foul shots from Marcus Brown to go ahead again, 31-30, in the final minute of the quarter. Pozzecco responded, however, by scoring a tricky basket in the lane with just seconds remaining, bringing Skipper into the break with a one-point advantage, 32-31.
In the third quarter, CSKA quickly made up for its one-point halftime deficit, but continued to struggle from long range. CSKA's misses allowed Skipper to stay in the game and Skipper knotted the score at 41-41 after Pozzecco penetrated and found Van Den Spiegel for a dunk. As CSKA missed more shots on the perimeter, Skipper went on a 2-11 run that was aided by a technical foul called on the CSKA bench. After Pozzecco drilled 4 straight free throws and then a jump shot from the wing, his 20th point of the game, Skipper held its biggest lead thus far, 43-50. With the game slipping out of its hands, CSKA saved itself as it finally got back on track from long range, with 2 straight triples that pulled the hosts within 49-50 with just under 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Skipper responded with a jumper from Smodis and free throw from Carlos Defino, but Sergei Monya banged in his second straight triple on the final play of the quarter to pull CSKA to within 52-53 after 30 minutes.
After a third quarter in which both teams fouled a lot came a barrage of three-point shots to start the fourth. Skipper's Pozzecco stayed hot at the beginning of the fourth quarter, immediately draining a deep three-pointer, which made the score 52-56. The teams exchanged turnovers, but Brown came alive for CSKA, hitting 2 threes, the second of which tied the score at 58-58 with 7:40 left. Monya wasn't done, either, rising up for his third triple in a few minutes to put CSKA up 58-61. CSKA stayed in control by forcing Pozzecco into a series of turnovers while navigating the half-court offense. After Holden dropped in elegant runner in the lane, CSKA's lead was 7 points, 68-61. With four minutes left and the game quickly slipping away Skipper coach Jasmin Repesa changed Pozzecco with Vujanic, who hadn't gotten off the bench due to injury up until that point. Repesa's gamble payed off, as Vujanic scored a quick fast break basket, giving Skipper life. Skipper then reeled off 6 consecutive points, 4 straight from Delfino before Smodis's dunk in traffic tied the score at 68-68 with 1:30 left to play. CSKA got 2 free throws from Brown to take back the lead, and then when Vujanic missed a wide open triple with 35 seconds left, Skipper looked like it had one foot in the loss column. On CSKA's next possession, however, Monya missed an open triple himself and after recovering the rebound Pozzecco raced down the court, finding Mottola open in the corner. Mottola drove to the basket, drew a foul with 4 seconds left and gave Skipper an upset victory by coolly knocking down both free throws.
Wednesday, December 3, 2003