Final Four Round 1 - May 09, 2003 CET: 20:30 Local time: 20:30 - PALAU SANT JORDI
FINAL FOUR, ROUND 1

Records

Ave.   Ave.
0-0 Final Four 0-0
0-0 Top 16 0-0
0-0 Regular Season 0-0
16-4 Overall 17-3

Referees

Crew Chief
PITSILKAS, NIKOLAOS, Greece
Referee
REMS, IZTOK, Slovenia
Umpire
BELOSEVIC, ILIJA, Serbia

Team Stats

Ave.   Ave.
79.3 Points 82.4
33.2 Rebounds 33.7
9.0 O. Rebounds 9.7
24.2 D. Rebounds 24.0
11.5 Assists 15.6
7.1 Steals 9.6
2.9 Blocks 3.3
13.2 Turnovers 10.6
52.9 % 2PT 53.7 %
39.4 % 3PT 37.2 %
73.7 % FT 71.8 %
88.8 Index 90.8

Player Stats

Ave.   Ave.
15.9 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Points 15.6 / HOLDEN, J.R.
5.8 / DUEÑAS, ROBERTO Rebounds 4.7 / Khryapa
2.2 / DUEÑAS, ROBERTO OR 1.6 / BASHMINOV, ALEXANDR
4.5 / FUCKA, GREGOR DR 3.7 / Khryapa
3.3 / Jasikevicius Assists 4.5 / HOLDEN, J.R.
1.5 / DE LA FUENTE, RODRIGO Steals 1.7 / HOLDEN, J.R.
0.9 / FEMERLING, PATRICK Blocks 1.4 / Khryapa
2.4 / Jasikevicius Turnovers 2.1 / HOLDEN, J.R.
59.7 % / BODIROGA, DEJAN 2PT 70.7 % / PANOV, SERGEY
48.5 % / DE LA FUENTE, RODRIGO 3PT 60.0 % / BASHMINOV, ALEXANDR
95.3 % / Jasikevicius FT 84.6 % / Songaila
18.5 / BODIROGA, DEJAN Index 13.5 / HOLDEN, J.R.

THE TAKE

Two teams with a long history at the top of European basketball get to measure each other in the new milennium when FC Barcelona takes on CSKA Moscow in the second semifinal on Friday. History and tradition are an integral part of this confrontation. CSKA is third on the list of European title-winners behind only Real Madrid and Ignis Varese, but the last time it could call itself champion was in 1971. That's a long time to wait between titles, perhaps, but Barcelona has waited longer. Since coming to prominence on the European stage in the early 1980s, Barcelona has won everything there is to win, except the Euroleague title. In the Final Four era, since 1988, Barca has played in eight semifinals, more than any other team, and made it to the finals four times. Coupled with a title-game loss before 1988, plus a last-second loss in 1996, Barcelona is arguably the most frustrated club among European greats. The same cannot be said, however, for its current team, who will enjoy an ostensible homecourt advantage on Friday, with more fans in the seats, although the court is not Barcelona's.

Any discussion of this game, or perhaps the Final Four in general, begins with one name: Dejan Bodiroga. The most accomplished European player of his generation, Bodiroga is in his absolute prime, having won the Euroleague two of the last three years and led Yugoslavia to the world title against all predictions last summer. Bodiroga's ability to lead teams and finish games is legendary. That he does both so consistently is a testimony to his patience and smarts in the face of the utmost pressure, just the same kind Barcelona can expect to face - maybe moreso than any Final Four team - when the ball goes up on Friday. Bodiroga, of course, is not going it alone. He has a host of great talents with him, starting at point guard, where Sarunas Jasikevicius has proven himself as a world-class shooter and floor director. Woe to the defense who lets him loose at an important moment. His shot is simply deadly and he is unafraid to take the very biggest ones. Also in the backcourt, Juan Carlos Navarro is among the most talented young scorers in the game of basketball. Unique in his ability to score on the run, whether fastbreaking or weaving through the lane on one of his patented drived, Navarro is a constant concern for any defense. In the frontcourt, Gregor Fucka is an eternal matchu-up dilemma for opposing coaches, too tall to be defended by a small forward, to skillful to be stopped by a big one. Under the rim stands big Roberto Dueñas, who has learned to work for space around the basket, and when he gets it, dunk without mercy. The bench is a fine one by any measure. Team captain Rodrigo De la Fuente has proven his ability to change games with defense alone. Big man Patrick Femerling makes Barca the tallest team in the league even when Dueñas is not in the game. Point guard Nacho Rodriguez plays defense that bothers even the most talented opponents. And young Anderson Varejao is a talent on springs, able to make his mark on sheer talent alone. The leader from the bench is none other than Svetislav Pesic, the world champion, the man whose Yugoslav teams beat Dream Treams. He is no stranger to must-win situations. In fact, he seems to love them.

CSKA Moscow has been nothing short of remarkable this season for a team that was changed from top to bottom last summer. Even during a successful season, CSKA has changed for the better, with big man Victor Alexander taking up residence in the post and giving an otherwise youthful team the confidence that only comes with experience. Big Vic looks imposing, and is, but his major quality may be an ability to do just as much damage two meters away from the rim with as sweet a shot as any center could hope to have. At the top of the CSKA offense is another American, speedy J.R. Holden, who has taken the continent by storm in just a few seasons, winning national titles in three different countries already, with a fourth likely soon. Trying to get a handle on Holden, who can score everwhere or just make his teammates better, might be the top chore for Barcelona. Beside Holden is Nikos Hatzivrettas, less known but no less dangerous than any shooting guard on the continent. Hatzivrettas takes his scoring and consistency seriously, so there is no doubt he will rise to the moment despite inexperience in big games. At small forward, rangy young talent Victor Khryapa is on everyone's list of future stars, but is content to be the defensive ace on CSKA now. On offense, his passing ability gives CSKA another dimension and makes sure the offense never bogs down. At power forward, another youngster, Darius Songaila has proven in his first pro season that he can score with anyone in the low post, with a turnaround shot that the best defenders find hard to even bother. Off the bench, unique tall point guard Theodoros Papaloukas takes over CSKA's engine at a moments notice, with no problems keeping up the speed. Yet another young buck, Sergei Monya is on the wing with speed, shooting and strength to spare when needed. Underneath, there is double trouble from the bench, Alexander Bashminov to score and rebound in bunches, and Alexie Savrasenko to bang with anyone who dares. Directing all that talent is a legend, Dusan Ivkovic, who has been there and done that as well as almost any European coach. Now in his fourth Final Four, the first in a few years, he will be as ready as any of his peers to add to his legend.
Thursday, May 8, 2003
Euroleague.net

Quotes Head Coaches

PESIC, SVETISLAV
FC Barcelona
"We play against a very good team, that is very well organized in defense, offense and transition game. Ivkovic built a very good team in a short time, from different basketball schools. They have two Greeks, two Americans, very good Russian players with big experience, and a few young but very talented players. We expect a very difficult game, but if you play in the Final Four these are no news for coach Ivkovic and for me. I think the basics are always to have control of the game. It's very important how we play in defense, the situation in rebound and to make as less turnovers as possible."
IVKOVIC, DUSAN
CSKA Moscow
"This moment we can give compliments to each other but it's true that Barcelona is very experienced. Maybe we don't have big stars like Barcelona. At this moment, after a great season, we have a key psychological advantage. After seven Final Fours, Barcelona plays very sure at home to win the championship. We don't have any pressure, but I'm sure Pesic is ready to prepare his team. I don't think that stopping one player, even as clever and experienced as Bodiroga, is the key for the game. If I can decide this moment, I would like Bodiroga to play his game and make his points, and to stop the other players, like Dueñas and Femerling, the big players inside. We need a little bit time to adapt to them, but my team should be ready for tomorrow. Barcelona has great players and a very good coach. The game will be decided by little details. The supporters can be good for Barcelona as they can push them, but on the other hand, be negative because they could put an extra pressure on the team. I don't think Barcelona has a tradition of losing Final Fours. Each event is different and although they have lost seven times, it won't be decisive. Of course there will be a lot of pressure for them but they have experience and great players and coach to overcome that."

Players

JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS
FC Barcelona
"We have good feeling. We don't reach the Final Four tired, you can't come to a Final Four feeling tired. CSKA is a very good team, if you look at their roster it's incredible, all of them are very good players. They have versatile centers, very physical, and they also have a good coach. But we are not bad at all. We are preparing tomorrow's game like any other game, we don't think the pressure is going to influence us. We don't think in celebrating the title here in Sant Jordi yet, we only think in CSKA. We will play and the rest will come afterwards."
DUEÑAS, ROBERTO
FC Barcelona
"We are especially motivated, we are really waiting for tomorrow to play a good game and win. There is nothing more than the usual things around a game, I think we are prepared enough to face CSKA. We worked very hard all season, first to get into Final Four, and now, to take over the semifinal and to reach the final game on Sunday. We know we can make it but we don't underestimate CSKA, that sureness about our qualification is only a feeling some people can have outside the team. CSKA is a strong contender, it reached the Final Four thanks to its own merits. It is not an one-man-team, they got 10 players who can play and decide, as their minutes average in the Euroleague reveal."
PAPALOUKAS, THEODOROS
CSKA Moscow
"It is my first Final Four and I am very happy and proud to be here. It's a very big event, a real basketball celebration. The semifinal is a very difficult game. We play against Barcelona, a tremendous team with so many stars on the floor. I respect them very much but we are ready to face them. Our preparation was very good, we are in a good mood and we will play for the final. It is not easy but we can make it. I know that I may face Bodiroga and I am ready. I did it before. If coach ask me to do it tomorrow I will try to make the job."
ALEXANDER, VICTOR
CSKA Moscow
"I'm very excited to be here. We worked hard all year, and this is a great accomplishment. We will try to enjoy our time here. This is my first time in the Final Four of the Euroleague and we are expecting some very good games...I think the important thing I learned from my Final Four experience in the NCAA with Duke is that it doesn't really matter what's your record and who's the favorite. We all start from zero wins and losses. Making it here is very good, so all the teams that are here are big teams and have a big chance to win it. It depends on who comes out, play hard, consistent and well. No team is much better than the other. It will come down to one or two plays. Not always the best team wins. The games will be very competitive."
Gregor Fucka - FC Barcelona - FF Barcelona 2003 In a thriller that was everything the experts expected, Barcelona sent a whole city to celebrating on Friday by beating CSKA Moscow 76-71 to join Benetton Treviso in the Euroleague title game on Sunday. A Final Four record crowd of 16,670 hit the roof at Palau Sant Jordi when Juan Carlos Navarro made the open-court steal and fastbreak layup with 17 seconds left to give Barca a six-point lead and seal the outcome. CSKA had led by two early in the final quarter, but a pair of three-point plays by Gregor Fucka put then ahead for good with 3 minutes, 23 seconds left. Fucka led the winners with 21 points, while J.R. Holden poured in the same for CSKA. Thus ended an all-out battle that saw a dozen changes in the scoreboard and an atmosphere of high drama throughout.

Despite an opening basket inside by Gregor Fucka, CSKA managed to quiet the crowd a bit as Holden opened the scoring with a three-pointer. That triggered an 0-11 CSKA run in which great moves by Nikos Hatzivrettas added 5 points and a triple by Victor Khryapa punctuated it. Barca went to its aces to start a comeback that was already based on all the early fouls CSKA was taking. Bodiroga and Jasikevicius made 3 of 4 at the line, but Holden and Alexander answered with baskets for 5-15. A Fucka tip-in and a Bodiroga scored his first basket. Still, however, holding was not to be denied, and his two baskets had CSKA up 11-19 with under 3 minutes left in the quarter. Bodiroga went back to the line for 4 shots and hit them all before Alexander Bashminov hit CSKA's last field goal of the quarter. Anderson Varejao was now on the court for Barca, grabbing rebounds and hitting a jumper. Then another reserve, Nacho Rodriguez, buried Barca's first triple to pull the locals within 20-21. A pair of Holden free throws finished up the quarter with CSKA in charge 21-25.

Victor Alexander - CSKA Moscow - FF Barcelona 2003Team captain Rodrigo De la Fuente started Barcelona's takeowver of the scoreboard with a triple to christen the second quarter. After Darius Songaila made his first shot for CSKA, Fucka hit a jumper. De la Fuente got to the line to put Barca in the lead 28-27, then added a bucket on the offensive glass to the lead. CSKA wasn't ready to give up that lead, however. Victor Alexander dropped a turnaround jumper over Fucka, then Sergei Monya and Darious Songaila stuck in back-to-back three-pointers as CSKA regained a comfort zone at 30-35. It was not to last. Fouls put Barca back on the line again and again, and 9 of 10 went down to allow Barca to take a 39-37 lead. That's when unsung Patrick Femerling got loose under the rim for a dunk and fastbreak finish. completing a 12-0 run to a 43-37 edge. Juan Carlos Navarro would throw in his own basket as Barca hit the locker room with a 45-38 halftime advantage.

As quickly as Barca turned things around in the first half, CSKA did so after the break. Although a Fucka cut to the basket for a three-point play and a Bodiroga back-door layup for two gave Barcelona its highest lead at 50-41 early in the third quarter, CSKA was loading up for a comeback. Darius Songaila led it with lots of hustle under the basket. Then Alexander and Holden joined in. It was still 55-47 Barca, however, as Fucka came up with another big shot and Sarunas Jasikevicius struck from behind the arc midway through the quarter. But from there to the end, it was all CSKA, making a 2-13 run. Holden scored 5 in a row, Songaila hit another shot and Alexander warmed up his mid-range jumper. After two free throws by Navarro, Holden scored after a big offensive rebound. And on the last play of the quarter, Alexander lofted another shot over Dueñas for a 57-60 CSKA lead.

Juan Carlos Navarro - FC Barcelona - FF Barcelona 2003Barca started the final quarter with a huge three-pointer off the hand of Nacho Rodriguez to tie the game and get the crowd right back into it. The lead went back and forth with a Holden foul shot, a patented up-and-under move by Bodiroga and a bomb from the arc by Victor Khryapa. The young Russian sensation then went down the other end and blocked Bodiroga's next attempt, but CSKA could not capitalize on offense. Next, with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left, Fucka found himself alone on the arc and did not disappoint the crowd. His shot fell for a 65-64 Barca lead. Two full minutes then passes with turnovers, fouls and misses before Fucka made a basket cut and Jasikevicius saw him free. Fucka's shot went down, the whistle blew and he dropped the free throw, too, for a 68-64 Barca lead. Songaila got 2 of those points back for CSKA at the free throw line. Jasikevicius ran off a pick and hit a jumper for Barca. Then Alexander put back a rebound of his own shot as the scoreboard read 70-68 and the drama grew with under 2 minutes to play. A Jasikevicius miss gave CSKA a chance to tie, but Songaila could not knock down an open jumper just under the one-minute mark. CSKA fouled Bodiroga, who made 2 free throws. A Songaila drive failed for CSKA but it kept the ball. On the inbounds play, Navarro flew out of the pack, made the steal and didn't stop running until he had a fastbreak layup and the crowd dancing in the aisles. Only 22 seconds remained and Barca was ahead 74-68, but after a timeout, CSKA got what it wanted seconds later on a drive-plus-foul shot by Hatzivrettas. CSKA tried to press but had to foul Bodiroga, who once again was golden from the line for 76-71. CSKA got two three-point attempts to finish, but neither fell and Barcelona was already holding its breath for the big final on Sunday.
Friday, May 9, 2003
Euroleague.net
Referees: PITSILKAS, NIKOLAOS (GRE), REMS, IZTOK (SLO), BELOSEVIC, ILIJA (SRB)
Attendance: 16670
By Quarter1234
FC Barcelona21241219
CSKA Moscow25142111
End of Quarter1234
FC Barcelona21455776
CSKA Moscow25396071
Head coach: PESIC, SVETISLAV
FC Barcelona
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
5 RODRIGUEZ, IGNACIO 12:00 7   2/3 1/2         1       4 3 5
6 ALZAMORA, ALFONSO DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7 FUCKA, GREGOR 32:00 21 6/8 1/1 6/6 2 7 9 1 1 4     4 7 29
8 FEMERLING, PATRICK 12:00 4 2/2   0/2 1 3 4           3 2 5
9 BRAVO, CÉSAR DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10 BODIROGA, DEJAN 37:00 17 3/10 0/1 11/13 1 3 4 4 1 1   1 1 7 20
11 NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS 24:00 8 2/5 0/1 4/4 2 1 3 1 1       1 4 12
12 DUEÑAS, ROBERTO 25:00 1 0/3   1/2 2 6 8     4     3 3 1
13 JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS 28:00 9 1/5 1/7 4/4   5 5 4   1     2 2 7
14 DE LA FUENTE, RODRIGO 21:00 7 1/3 1/1 2/2 3   3     2   1 2 1 4
16 VAREJAO, ANDERSON FRANÇA 9:00 2 1/2   0/2   2 2     2   1 2 1 -3
18 VAN DE HARE, REMON DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           1 2 3   4         1 8
Totals 200:00 76 16/38 5/14 29/37 12 29 41 10 8 14 0 3 22 31 88
42.1% 35.7% 78.4%
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
Head coach: IVKOVIC, DUSAN
CSKA Moscow
# Player Min Pts 2FG
M-A
3FG
M-A
FT
M-A
Rebounds As St To Bl Fouls PIR
O D T Fv Ag Cm Rv
4 PAPALOUKAS, THEODOROS 13:00 2   0/1 2/2 1 1 2 1   1     2 2 3
5 HOLDEN, J.R. 38:00 21 6/11 2/8 3/4 1 1 2 2 3 4     4 7 15
6 PANOV, SERGEY 6:00                         3   -3
7 PASHUTIN, EVGENY DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9 SONGAILA, DARIUS 33:00 14 3/12 1/4 5/6 2 2 4 1 2 2     3 6 9
10 HATZIVRETTAS, NIKOS 28:00 8 3/4 0/3 2/2 3 1 4   1       3 2 8
11 PASHUTIN, ZAKHAR 5:00   0/1     1 1 2           2   -1
12 MONIA, SERGEY 8:00 3   1/2     1 1 1     1   4   1
13 KHRYAPA, VICTOR 27:00 6 0/1 2/4   4 8 12       1   4   12
14 SAVRASENKO, ALEKSEY DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
15 BASHMINOV, ALEXANDR 9:00 4 2/2   0/1   1 1       1   3 1 3
20 ALEXANDER, VICTOR 33:00 13 6/15 0/2 1/2 4 2 6 3 2 1     2 4 13
Team             2 2   5 1         6
Totals 200:00 71 20/46 6/24 13/17 16 20 36 8 13 9 3 0 30 22 66
43.5% 25% 76.5%
This game is not yet played

Head Coaches

PESIC, SVETISLAV
FC Barcelona
"It was a really big game. We played hard and we have beaten a very strong team in CSKA. I think that the magnificent crowd helped us very much and we are sure that they will do it again also in the final. I was calm because I was very concentrated in the game. I agree that I played very well but it isn't the important thing. The main thing is that our team won and now we have to do our best to beat Benetton in a very difficult and tough final."
IVKOVIC, DUSAN
CSKA Moscow
"I think it was a very tough game. After a good start and good transition game in the first quarter, we lost the lead. Then, in the fourth quarter, the most important period of the game, we didn't play well and lost control of it We didn't play our inside game. Barcelona played with their center outside in defense and we tried to beat them with lots of three-point attempts. We made only six of 24 from three, but most of those shots were open. In the second half, Songaila had Dueñas guarding him, and he took most of his shots when he was open, but his percentages from the field were very low."

Players

BODIROGA, DEJAN
FC Barcelona
"We have played really good defense. It has been a tough game, not a beautiful one. Benetton is a great team, with its own style, which has nothing to prove . We are only 40 minutes away, I'm going to help this team and I want this title for Barcelona fans, but we all must keep our feet on the ground."
JASIKEVICIUS, SARUNAS
FC Barcelona
"It was a very difficult game. We knew that a team coached by Ivkovic was going to play very good defense. We have to play the final with the same mentality."
NAVARRO, JUAN CARLOS
FC Barcelona
"We got a positive result, just as we wanted. The crowd was fantastic and the atmosphere, incredible. We are playing well and we hope Sunday to be the same. The fans have been great and helped us to win. I have helped in terms of rebounding and playing defense, which are not my strong points. Benetton is not our favorite opponent team, we will have to count on the home court advantage."
HOLDEN, J.R.
CSKA Moscow
"It was a game played hard, but both teams played well. We missed some important shots down the stretch and that's what it comes down to in the end. I think we played aggressive, and that's how you play in a Final Four game. When you get 26 points from the line, you can't ask more than that. But that's how it is when you play against the home team. It's part of the game."
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