|Reigning Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow got off to a strong start in Top 16 Group H by thrashing Fenerbahce Ulker 48-66 in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday night. CSKA joined Cibona in a tie for first place in the group at 1-0 and the teams will face each other in the Russian capital next week. Fenerbahce Ulker visits Montepaschi Siena, as both teams will be looking for their first win in the Top 16. Ramunas Siskauskas led the winners with 14 points. Terence Morris added 12, while Viktor Khryapa had 11 for CSKA. Gordan Giricek had 13 points for FB Ulker in his first Euroleague game since 2002. Semih Erden pulled down 11 boards for the hosts. Siskauskas buried consecutive triples in a 2-12 opening run that allowed CSKA to take a 12-20 lead after 10 minutes. Siskauskas, Trajan Langdon and an outstanding Morris fueled a game-breaking 0-11 run that made it an 18-point game midway through the second quarter. J.R. Holden helped CSKA to a 25-41 lead at halftime. FB Ulker improved its defense after the break with Gasper Vidmar and Semih Erden together on court, but CSKA kept a 38-49 margin after 30 minutes. And the hosts did not rally in the fourth quarter, as Khryapa and Morris made sure that CSKA went back to Moscow with a valuable road win.
FB Ulker tried a small starting lineup with Rasim Basak at power forward, but that didn’t phase the visitors. Siskauskas got CSKA going with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer and then Morris scored from close range before Devin Smith got Fener on the scoreboard with an uncontested layup. Siskauskas buried another triple and Khryapa also struck from downtown for a 2-11 CSKA margin. Basak joined the three-point shootout after a Fener timeout and Smith added a wild driving basket to bring the hosts within 7-12. Siskauskas sank a jumper off the dribble and Khryapa threw down an impressive two-handed slam it to restore a 9-point CSKA advantage. Oguz Savas sank free throws, but Fenerbahce continued to struggle against the guests' outstanding man-to-man defense. Khryapa fed Erazem Lorbek for a layup before as Giricek stepped onto a Euroleague court for the first time in more than six years. Emir Preldzic had a huge block on Nikos Zisis and free throws by Giricek got FB Ulker within 12-18. More foul shots by Siskauskas boosted the guests' lead to 12-20 after 10 minutes.
Damir Kaan Mrsic scored in penetration at the start of the second quarter as CSKA tried to slow down the game tempo. Morris finished a long, two-chance CSKA offense with a triple, but a jumper by Giricek kept Fener within 16-23. Siskauskas sank a five-meter shot and Morris buried a long two-pointer to make it a double-digit game. Langdon took over with a fast break layup that caused the hosts to call timeout. Zisis shined with a fallaway jumper and a corner three-pointer by Morris broke the game open, 16-34, midway through this period. Giricek tried to change things with a jumper and Semih Erden added a jump hook to get to 20-34. Giricek kept pacing FB Ulker, but didn't find much help. CSKA called timeout after which Lorbek nailed an uncontested triple to silence the crowd. J.R. followed with a driving layup, but Giricek banked in a seven-meter bomb. Holden beat the buzzer with an off-balance jumper to fix the halftime score at 25-41.
Holden kept pacing CSKA with another big basket right after the break, but a free throw by Onan and a layup in transition by Erden got Fener within 28-43. CSKA followed its game plan with a very patient offense and its trademark defense. Erden, however, took over with a put-back dunk that caused the guests to call timeout at 30-43. CSKA readjusted its defense, but found problems at the other end. Meanwhile, free throws by Mrsic got Fener even closer, 32-43. Vidmar and Erden had consecutive blocks on Zoran Planinic and Lorbek, respectively, as CSKA could not find the way to the basket. A big basket by Vidmar got the crowd involved at 34-43. Planinic found space for an uncontested corner triple and soon added a free throw to keep CSKA way ahead. Vidmar was next to the foul line, but made just one attempt, which Lorbek bettered with an outstanding put-back dunk. More free throws by Savas kept Fener within 38-49 after three quarters.
FB Ulker needed a quick comeback to return to the game early in the fourth quarter and Giricek tried to ignite it with a jumper. CSKA did not panic, however, as Planinic made free throws and soon added a seven-meter bomb that sealed the outcome, 40-54, with seven minutes to go. The hosts tried to use short possessions but lacked ball circulation when it mattered most. Zisis stepped up with a backdoor layup off a FB Ulker timeout and Khryapa fired in his second three-pointer for a 40-59 advantage. Both teams fought for points differential, a critical issue for multiple-way ties at the end of the Top 16. Morris dunked it, but Savas and Erden kept the hosts within 44-61. Everything was said and done at this point, as CSKA showed its power against a quality opponent.
Thursday, January 29, 2009