CSKA Moscow advanced to the Top 16 and joined a three-way tie atop the Group C standings by downing Lottomatica Roma 57-72 in the Italian capital on Thursday night. CSKA improved to 5-2 and registered its fourth consecutive win to tie atop the Group C table with Maccabi Electra and Caja Laboral. Lottomatica dropped to 3-4 by registering its fourth consecutive loss and faces a do-or-die battle for fourth place against Maroussi BC, fifth at 2-5, in Rome next week. Lottomatica will advance to the Top 16 if it beats Maroussi. Trajan Langdon and Sasha Kaun led the winners each with 13 points. Langdon hit 4-of-5 three-pointers while Kaun added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Zoran Planinic added 12 points and J.R. Holden had 11 for CSKA. Andre Hutson had 18 points for Lottomatica while Herve Toure added 14. Langdon and Ramunas Siskauskas struck from downtown in a 0-13 opening run that allowed CSKA to keep a 16-24 margin after 10 minutes. Langdon stayed on fire and got some help from Holden and Kaun to make it a 19-point game, 22-41, at halftime. Three-point accuracy and a dominant Kaun allowed CSKA to break the game open, 34-61, late in the third quarter. Nothing changed from that moment, as Roma only rallied once the outcome was clear.
Kaun got CSKA going with a two-handed dunk - and the free throw that came with it. Langdon soon added a three-pointer and Viktor Khryapa made free throws for a 0-8 lead. Lottomatica had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes and an open jumper by Siskauskas made the hosts call timeout at 0-10. Roma failed to get Hutson and Ibby Jaaber involved and Siskauskas downed a triple that capped a 0-13 CSKA run. Hutson tried to change things with free throws but Langdon answered from downtown for a 2-16 score. Rodrigo De La Fuente hit foul shots and Kennedy Winston found his first points on a driving layup, as Lottomatica improved its defense with its second unit on court. Planinic sank a jumper that kept CSKA way ahead, 7-20. Winston scored again in penetration and free throws by Ricky Minard gave the hosts some hope at 11-21. CSKA struggled to score now and a three-pointer by Toure brought Roma back to life, 14-21. Kaun silenced the crowd with a jump hook and a free throw by Andrei Vorontsevich allowed CSKA to keep a 16-24 lead after 10 minutes.
Roma opted to rest its main players early in the second quarter. Meanwhile, CSKA tried to play more aggressive down low with Nikita Kurbanov and Kaun together on court. Holden found its first points on a driving layup that Langdon followed with a rainbow triple to make it a 13-point game, 16-29. Roma had been scoreless for more then 3 minutes until Toure struck from downtown. Langdon answered in the same way and Holden added a fast break layup for a 19-34 score. Lottomatica brought Jaaber, Hutson and Winston back in the game but struggled to find open shots. CSKA had started to use long possessions and powered the offensive board through Kaun. Both teams went scoreless for more than 2 minutes, however, until Hutson downed a six-meter jumper. Planinic sank a mid-range shot and soon scored in penetration to boost the guests' lead to 21-38. A foul shot by Hutson and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Holden fixed the halftime score at 22-41.
Winston scored in penetration soon after the break but an open three-pointer by Planinic gave CSKA a 24-44 margin. Lottomatica tried to use quick possessions but kept struggling to find good shots and could not find Hutson due to Khryapa's outstanding defense. Kaun shined with a big dunk to break the game open, 24-46. Hutson stepped up with a baseline jumper and Minard added a running jumper for a 28-46 Roma deficit. Kaun found room for another uncontested dunk and a three-pointer by Siskauskas made the hosts call timeout at 28-51. Planinic beat the shot clock with a corner triple and Andrea Crosariol fouled out soon after that. Kurbanov added a baseline jumper to make it a 26-point game, 30-56. Hutson sank consecutive jumpers but Kurbanov struck from downtown and Kaun added a layup for a 34-61 score. Back-to-back baskets by De La Fuente got Lottomatica within 38-63 after 30 minutes.
The outcome was clear already but Lottomatica tried to return to the game early in the fourth quarter. Alessandro Tonolli sank free throws and Toure added a layup-plus-foul to bring the hosts within 43-63. Jaaber scored in penetration to cap a 7-0 Roma run. CSKA struggled to score and tried to use twin point guards with Holden and Anton Ponkrashov together on court, also given playing time to Dimitriy Sokolov, back in the team after an injury. CSKA had troubles against the hosts' zone defense while three-pointers by Luca Vitali and Toure brought Roma within 51-65 with under 6 minutes left. Holden and Ponkrashov sank free throws to make CSKA put the victory on ice, 53-68, with less than 3 minutes to go. Everything was said and done already, as CSKA left Rome with a good-as-gold road win and a Top 16 berth while Lottomatica must break its losing streak right away to make it to the next round.
Thursday, December 10, 2009