CSKA Moscow took the big showdown between undefeated teams in Group G by downing AXA FC Barcelona 72-55 in the Russian capital on Wednesday. CSKA is now the Group G leader with a 2-0 record while Barcelona drops to 1-1 and will tie for second place at the end of this round. David Andersen led the winners with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Ramunas Siskauskas added 16 points, while Trajan Langdon had 10 for CSKA. Jaka Lakovic had 11 points for Barcelona, but nobody else scored in double digits for the guests. Siskauskas scored 6 unanswered points in a 9-0 run that gave CSKA its first double-digit lead, 22-11, early in the second quarter. Barcelona got within 32-25 at halftime while three-pointers by Ersan Ilyasova, Pepe Sanchez and Roger Grimau kept the guests in the game, 48-43, after 30 minutes. Theo Papaloukas shined early in the fourth quarter and Langdon and Andersen stepped up to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer, as CSKA's outstanding defense once again allowed the hosts to grab another easy home win.
Andersen got CSKA going with his trademark five-meter jumper from the left wing, as Barcelona tried to speed up the game tempo from the opening tip. The visitors went scoreless for more than two minutes until Fran Vazquez hit a jump hook to tie the game at 2-2. Siskauskas made free throws and soon added a left-handed driving layup for a 6-2 CSKA lead. Lakovic fed Denis Marconato for a floating layup, but Barcelona kept struggling to score, as CSKA was its usual self in defense. Meanwhile, Andersen shined with a put-back layup, but Lakovic answered from downtown for an 8-7 Barcelona deficit. Marcus Goree hit free throws on Vazquez's third foul, so Ilyasova stepped on court at power forward. Meanwhile, Langdon fired in a three-pointer to give CSKA a 13-7 lead. Ilyasova had a huge block on Tomas Van den Spiegel and Lakovic buried his second triple to keep Barcelona close at 13-10. Mario Kasun and Andersen traded free throws, as both teams missed some easy shots. Andersen beat the buzzer with another baseline jumper for a 16-11 CSKA lead after 10 minutes.
CSKA switched to a 2-3 zone defense right at the start of the second quarter, but it kept missing shots at the other end, so the hosts opted to drive to the basket. Siskauskas made foul shots and then added a floating layup for a 20-11 CSKA lead. Barcelona could not find the way to the basket, while a red-hot Siskauskas stepped up with another driving layup that capped a 9-0 run. Ilyasova shined with a power layup and Lakovic sank his third bomb from downtown to bring Barcelona within 22-16. Goree made free throws and Nikos Zisis buried a mid-range jumper, but Marconato kept Barcelona within 26-20. The guests had improved their defense, hustling for every loose ball now. Ilyasova made a free throw and Gianluca Basile added a second-chance layup to get within 26-23. Andersen fired in another shot and Goree made free throws to restore a 30-23 CSKA lead. Alex Acker drew a foul and calmly made free throws, but Andersen copied him at the other end to give CSKA a 32-25 halftime lead.
Andersen continued to pace CSKA with another mid-range jumper right after the break and then Langdon fired in one from downtown to give the hosts their biggest margin yet, 37-25. Barcelona could not find any shots at all for three minutes, committing 4 consecutive turnovers, leading to new head coach Xavi Pascual calling a much-needed timeout. Kasun tried to ignite the visitors’ comeback with a layup-plus-foul but Siskauskas erased it with a three-pointer that made it 41-28. Ilyasova answered from downtown and had another big block on Goree. Sanchez joined the three-point shootout to get Barcelona within 42-34. Viktor Khryapa shined with a high-flying tip-in, but Grimau buried another triple to make it a 7-point game. CSKA quickly called timeout to adjust its offense and improved its aggressiveness with Van den Spiegel on court. He and Sanchez traded free throws before Basile buried a seven-meter bomb to bring the guests even closer. Free throws by Jordi Trias and a driving basket by Langdon fixed the score at 48-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
Lakovic took over with a six-meter jumper to get Barcelona within striking distance, 48-45, early in the fourth quarter. Theo Papaloukas found his first points on a driving basket and soon scored again in penetration to give CSKA some fresh air at 52-45. Barcelona called timeout, but Langdon scored again to cap a 6-0 CSKA mini-run. Grimau shined with an outstanding driving layup, but Andersen hit from downtown to boost the hosts' lead back to double digits with six minutes to go. Grimau made free throws, but Papaloukas fed Siskauskas for a wide-open triple. Kasun sank a fadeaway jumper that an unstoppable Papaloukas bettered with a wild three-point play for a 63-51 CSKA margin. Barcelona soon entered the foul bonus and CSKA made the most out of it. Andersen sank foul shots while Barcelona lost control on offense. More free throws by Andersen after a Barcelona timeout sealed the outcome, 67-52, with more than three minutes to go. Both teams fought for points differential now, as a three-pointer by Khryapa and a jumper by Goree allowed CSKA to get a massive home win that got the team closer to the Quarterfinal Playoffs.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008