CSKA Moscow became the first Euroleague team to finish the regular season unbeaten when it topped the Opel Skyliners 88-103 in Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday in Group C. CSKA, which was already was group champion and will enter the Top 16 draw as a top-seeded team, finished the regular season with an immaculate 14-0 record. David Andersen was the man of the game on Wednesday, leading the winners with 30 points and 11 rebounds on a day when Demos Dikoudis, Aleksey Savrasenko and Antonio Granger were back in Moscow. Marcus Brown added 21 points, Sergey Monya 20 and J.R. Holden 11 for CSKA. Chris Williams led the Skyliners with 26 points, Spyros Panteliadis added 17 while Pascal Roller, Mlajden Sljivancanin and Hasan Ozkan each had 12 each. Andersen and Brown led 1-12 run late in the game to seal the win and send CSKA into the Top 16 with all its momentum. The Opel Skyliners finished with a 4-10 record in its Euroleague return after two seasons.
Martin Muursepp opened fire with a driving layup for CSKA that Williams immediately matched at the other end, starting a 6-1 Skyliners run. Williams had 4 of those points, including a tough reverse layup that gave the hosts a 8-3 lead. Andersen stepped up with a jump hook and a basket-plus-free throw to which Monya added a go-ahead layup to force a Skyliners timeout at 8-10. CSKA had improved its defense, while Monya added a corner three which Sljivancanin copied for Skyliners. CSKA was now on fire, as Andersen found a three-point play, Muursepp and Brown scored around the basket, and Monya added a basket-plus-free throw that capped a mammoth 3-20 run and extended CSKA's lead to double digits, 11-23. Ozkan fired in a three from the top of the key and Roller scored 4 quick points to bring the Skyliners within 18-30 after 10 minutes.
Williams made free throws and Pantelaidis scored off a two-on-one trap to cut the hosts' deficit to 22-30. Brown fed Andersen for an easy basket, but the Skyliners were now feeling good. Williams followed Ozkan's reverse layup with a basket, while Sljivancanin added his second triple to make it a five-point game, 29-34. CSKA organized its offense once Theodoros Papaloukas came off the bench, as Holden fed Andersen for his sixth basket and added a long jumper to extend the lead to 29-38. It didn't last long, as Sljivancanin and Roller fired in consecutive three-pointers. The Skyliners were back within 37-40. Brown came back and punished the 2-3 zone of the Skyliners with a bomb from downtown. Ozkan matched that, however, and even when Brown and Andersen combined for 6 quick points, a big three by Roller and a close layup by Panteliadis kept Opel close, 47-52, at halftim. Andersen had 19 points already.
Monya followed a two-handed slam with a three-point play to give the guests a 49-58 margin early in the third quarter. Williams took advantage of his mismtach with Sergei Panov to make free throws and feed Ozkan for a turnaround layup to give the Skyliners some hope at 53-58. CSKA found answers from downtown, however, as Panov, Papaloukas and Brown fired in a triple apiece to boost the guests way ahead at 53-67. Panteliadis tried to change things with a layup, but Monya joined the three-point festival of CSKA. Sljivancanin and Panteliadis answered from downtown while Williams added a layup to keep Skyliners within 8 points, at 63-71. Brown took over with an off-balanced basket-plus-free throw and Panov added foul shots of his own give CSKA a 65-76 edge after 30 minutes.
The Skyliners tried to get back the game early in the fourth quarter, as Williams followed a layup with yet another three-point play to cut their deficit to 70-79. Papaloukas fed Andersen for a dunk, but the Skyliners were far from being done. Alex King had 5 points in a 9-2 run which Williams capped with a free throw to make it a four-point game, 79-83. Andersen became the guests' go-to guy with 4 quick points while Brown added a basket-plus-free throw to force a Skyliners timeout at 82-90. After that, Monya fired in a corner three, Brown added free throws and Muursepp dunked in what proved a game-breaking 1-12 run to a 82-97 CSKA lead with under 3 minutes to go. A big three by Holden boosted the guests over the 100-point mark, as CSKA finished the regular season unbeaten after a record-breaking win. CSKA's overall winning streak in official games - the final Russian League playoff game last season, two victories in the Russian Cup, 17 in the Russian League and 14 in the Euroleague - is now 34. The Skyliners, meanwhile, played their last Euroleague game of a fine season in which they overcame injuries to be competitive in almost each and every game.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005