Fenerbahce vs. Madrid for all the marbles!
Real Madrid holds on for an 83-92 victory. It's a tough way to go down for CSKA, which was the best team throughout the regular season, but Madrid was the deserved winner. And it did so with 16 points apiece from the star of the future, Doncic, and its former MVP back from injury, Llull. The final is set. Fenerbahce vs. Madrid for all the marbles. See you on Sunday!
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 23:04
Big-time players play big for Madrid
Just when kit looked like a CSKA run was about to happen, Rodriguez was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Thompkins, which killed some of the momentum. But that was just a bump in the road; it did not stop CSKA. Clyburn scored twice to make it a 3-point game with four minutes left. These situations are made for big-time players. Llull hit from downtown. Then Ayon dunked. Doncic made free throws. And Ayon scored again. Three All-EuroLeague players combined for 9 points in two and a half minutes while CSKA only got a single basket from Hines. That made it a double-digit lead. De Colo may have given CSKA hope with a three, but it was a brief hope since a pair of offensive rebounds helped Madrid kill the clock.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 22:55
0-9 Madrid run clinches it? Nope!
After a three by De Colo and steal and slam by Kurbanov, the scoreboard shows 61-64. Will Madrid feel the pressure? Sergio Llull won’t. He split free throws and then nailed a pull-up triple in transition. Then Tavares scored inside and Thompkins from behind the arc. It all amounted to a 0-9 run and a 12-point lead. Game over? Nope! Kurbanov's three-pointer and Hines free throws have CSKA back in the hunt.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 22:41
Time for CSKA to make its move
After scoring 30 first-quarter points, CSKA totaled 26 in the next 20 minutes, including just 10 in the third quarter. Trailing by 7 entering the fourth quarter, it must fix its offense, since holding Madrid to 16 in the third quarter is acceptable. Now is the time for CSKA to go with all its scorers and change the game. Can it?
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 22:33
Madrid seizes the momentum
In a game that had all the signs of going to the wire, Clyburn nailed a three-pointer to give CSKA a 51-47 lead early in the second half. And then Madrid happened. With strong defense and a fluid attack led by Reyes, Doncic and Causeur, Los Blancos reeled off 13 unanswered points. Reyes scored 5 points and Causeur dished a pair of assists and drilled a three in the run. Higgins ended a five-plus minute scoring drought with a free throw, but missed the second – CSKA's first miss from the line all night. The momentum was in white.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 22:25
An exciting second half is on tap!
CSKA is dominating on the glass, getting to the line and making its shots. So how is it losing? One reason is an uncharacteristic 9 turnovers. Only five times all season did CSKA commit more in an entire game! We saw it earlier tonight… At this level, you cannot give away possessions. Madrid has also attempted 5 more three-pointers than CSKA, which 0 with the teams shooting at a comparable rate from downtown (45.5% for CSKA and 43.8% for Madrid) is also of value. Finally, Madrid is using its size advantage – and Llull and co.'s quick drives inside – to shoot 66.7% on two-pointers. CSKA must find a way to defend those better to maximize its advantages in the second half. What is good news for neutral fans is that only Nikita Kurbanov is suffering from foul trouble and the big stars like De Colo and Doncic are playing well. An exciting second half is on tap!
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 21:58
Madrid guards battle back
Madrid went with a smaller, quicker lineup to start the second half with Randolph at center and Trey Thompkins at power forward and three guards – Llull, Fabien Causeur and Jaycee Carroll. It was just what the doctor ordered for Madrid... A Causeur three, a circus shot by Llull and a quick-release triple from Carroll made it a 2-point game in all of 90 seconds! Clyburn countered with free throws, but the momentum had shifted. Thompkins and Llull hit back-to-back threes and soon Carroll added another for a 34-37 Madrid lead.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 21:34
CSKA negates Madrid’s size
With the subs, Madrid looked to create an advantage with two big men on the floor and did so when Anthony Randolph scored over Will Clyburn. CSKA was quick to react by bringing in a natural four in veteran Victor Khryapa. Size continued to play a role when Madrid turned to Walter Tavares. Though CSKA could not stop him on offense, he quickly drew a foul (and missed 2 free throws) and scored inside, CSKA managed to draw Tavares away from the hoop on defense and stuck him with 2 quick fouls. One was thanks to a drive by Higgins, who amassed 12 first-quarter points, and the second drawn by De Colo when rebounding. CSKA had neutralized Tavares and after a three by Clyburn on the first-quarter buzzer, led 30-20.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 21:30
Higgins on fire
After a masterful scoring performance in the EuroLeague Playoffs with De Colo injured, Higgins picked up where he left off. He scored the game's first points with a pull-up three and soon added a basket-plus-foul. A jumper and a layup – without a miss yet! – gave him 10 points in less than four minutes and gave CSKA a 13-7 start. Madrid will need someone to stop him, but it will have to wait as Higgins gets a breather with the first wave of substitutions. And now those two former MVPs (plus Rodriguez!) are on the floor.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 21:22
Here are your starters
With the exception of Leo Westermann, who did not travel to Belgrade with CSKA due to a back injury, both teams have full rosters and the other players returning from injury are all in uniform. Of particular note for Madrid is Facu Campazzo in the starting lineup, where he is joined by Luka Doncic, Jeffery Taylor, Felipe Reyes and Gustavo Ayon. There is talk that Camapazzo is limited to only 10 minutes of playing time… We shall see. Starting for CSKA are Sergio Rodriguez, Cory Higgins, Semen Antonov, Nikita Kurbanov and Othello Hunter. That means both teams have a former MVP – Sergio Llull for Madrid and Nando De Colo for CSKA – coming off the bench.
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 21:01
EuroLeague Semifinal, Take 2
And just like that, after all the drama and excitement from the Fenerbahce vs. Zalgiris clash, it's time to move on. CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid are on the court warming up. Stark Arena is quiet for now, but it's about to heat up again. We have the 2015 champs playing the 2016 champs. The winner meets the 2017 champs in the final. It's championship time in Belgrade!
Belgrade - Friday, May 18, 20:41