CSKA won its Euroleague opening game in powerful Group B on Wednesday by beating Montepaschi Siena, 84-71, to the delight of a soldout crowd in Moscow. With a 64-64 tie on the board early in the final quarter, first Marcus Brown and then Victor Khryapa pushed CSKA to victory with 8 points each over the final 5 furious minutes. Brown topped the winners with 19 points. Sergei Monia played a decisive role for CSKA with 17 points in just 17 minutes coming off the bench. Khryapa had 14 on 4-for-5 three-pointers while J.R. Holden hit 12. CSKA's Mirsad Turkcan also grabbed 13 rebounds against his former team. David Andersen had a solid game for Montepaschi, scoring 17 points on 6-for-7 field goals and 5-for-6 free throws. Vrbica Stefanov had 11 while Giacomo Galanda chipped in 10 points.
In a back-and-forth first quarter, Montepaschi recovered from a 12-0 CSKA run and stayed in the game. A three-pointer by Galanda gave the guests their first lead, 2-5, but a put-back by Tarlac and five consecutive points by Brown put CSKA ahead, 9-5. Montepaschi took the lead again after another triple by Galanda, 9-10, but CSKA responded with a 12-0 run, in which Holden scored 5 points and had three steals, to surge ahead by 11 points, 21-10. Montepaschi halted CSKA with a three-pointer by Dusan Vukcevic followed by back-to-back baskets from Roberto Chiacig and Galanda, cutting their deficit at the end of the first quarter to 21-17.
CSKA changed its lineup in the second quarter, as Alexei Savrasenko and Sergey Panov took places of Turkcan and Dragan Tarlac, and a bit later Brown was replaced by Anton Yudin. Montepaschi took advantage of CSKA's vulnerability without its stars on the floor. Dave Vanterpool forced Holden into 3 consecutive misses and with a reverse layup by Vukcevic, Montepaschi grabbed the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter, 26-27. Several lead changed followed, with Savrasenko powering CSKA on the boards. Monya entered the game and gave CSKA a big boost, scoring 8 points in the final 4 minutes of the quarter. Monia won a shootout with Vanterpool, helping CSKA go on a 6-0 run in the final minute. The second quarter ended in CSKA's favor as Savrasenko drilled a jump shot from two meters, giving the hosts a six-point lead at halftime, 41-35.
Montepaschi's Bootsy Thornton opened the third quarter with a jumper, which Brown answered to make it 43-37. But Montepaschi started running the break then and Andersen started dominating the boards. The Australian center scored 7 points in 12-2 run that put Montepaschi ahead 45-51. CSKA coach Dusan Ivkovic called a timeout, and since then CSKA focused on Andersen, double-teaming him in the low post. Meanwhile Monya put on a show, following an alley-oop dunk with yet another slam to power a 6-0 CSKA run and tie the game at 51-all. Two layups by Stefanov and a three-point play by Andersen took Montepaschi ahead again 54-57. Holden scored a three-pointer, his first field goal since the opening quarter, and then Monya followed him with another shot from downtown for a 60-60 tie at the end of the third period.
Nervousness was apparent as both teams went scoreless in the first 3 minutes of the final period. Alexander Bashminov hit a free throw, answered with a put-back by Stefanov to make it 61-62 Montepaschi. Then Khryapa took over, showing why he is one of the best young forwards in Europe. He hit a three-pointer to give CSKA a 64-62 lead. Brown then scored 5 consecutive points, but Michalis Kakiouzis made a three-pointer to bring Montepaschi within two, 69-67. Brown answered with another bomb from downtown, but then Khryapa stole the show with back-to-back triples to give CSKA a nine-point lead, 78-69. Montepaschi never recoverd as Holden sealed the win with a six-meter jumper. CSKA had overcome all the expectation and pressure to win at home with a blast to finish the game.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003