Real Madrid has consolidated its improvement in Group C with a huge road win, 77-92, at CSKA Moscow on Thursday. Going into a two-week Euroleague break, the victory assures Madrid at least a tie for first-place with Panathinaikos, who was to play later Thursday. It was a close game until shortly after halftime when Madrid eased away with a couple 8-0 runs, the last punctuated by two Iker Iturbe three-pointers. Madrid lifted its record to 5-1, while CSKA is suddenly 3-3 and stuck in a crowd in the middle of the group. Once again, veteran ace Sasha Djordjevic paced Madrid with 19 points. Four more visitors scored in double figures: Alberto Herreros with 17, Dusan Vukcevic with 14, Iturbe with 11 and Eric Struelens with 10. For CSKA, Zakhar Pachoutine had a team-high 16 points, while Mirsad Turkcan added 14, Alexandre Petrenko and Curtis McCants 12 each. Gordan Giricek was held to 7 points, almost 20 below his average.
The game started with several successful attacks from under the basket by the visitors. The defence of CSKA was unable to stop Eric Struelens and Zan Tabak, but on the other end the hosts managed to compensate with several difficult baskets of their own. Then CSKA started to warm up from three-point distance, as Zakhar Pachoutine poured in 8 consecutive points of his 11 in the first quarter as CSKA grabbed a healthy first lead, 18-11. But just as quickly, Herreros and Iturbe answered with their own threes for Madrid to cut the deficit to 24-23. McCants the fourth CSKA three-pointer in six first-quarter attempts to make it 27-23 after 10 minutes.
The defenses came to play in the second quarter, Madrid's a little more than CSKA's. CSKA head coach Valeri Tikhonenko amazed the audience a bit by leaving Mirsad Turkcan and Gordan Giricek on the bench together and letting his reserves play.. At first it worked out for a 36-28 lead in favour of CSKA, but in the middle of the quarter Alberto Angulo's three-pointer began a 4-14 run that led Madrid to a 40-42 lead at halftime.
It was still a tight game, 47-48, early in the second half when Madrid used a four-point play off an intentional foul to start an 8-0 run. Two Herreros free throws followed by a Struelens jumper came from the intentional foul by Pachoutine and resulted in a 47-56 Madrid lead. That looked innocent enough as McCants made consecutive baskets to pull CSKA within 51-56, but two more Herreros free throws and a pair of three-pointers by Iturbe gave the visitors a turbo-boost to a 56-65 lead at the end of the quarter.
CSKA looked to get back in it at the start of the fourth quarter, but the door was shut with another pair of three-pointers, by Djordjevic and Dusan Vukcevic that put the lead at 60-76. That amounted to a 13-30 run since the half. The closes that CSKA came thereafter was 70-81, when a Pachoutine three finished an 11-4 run for the home team. Only two minutes remained, however, and four quick points by Djordjevic stopped all thoughts of a comeback.
Thursday, November 15, 2001