CSKA Moscow remained alive in the Quarterfinal Playoffs and forced a deciding Game 3 in its series by beating Olympiacos Piraeus 73-83 on Thursday night at the Peace and Friendship Arena in Athens, Greece. The final game of the best-of-three series will take place next week in Moscow. The Reds were the only road team to win Game 1 of the playoffs this season when Lynn Greer’s buzzer-beating jumper knocked off the Russian champs on Tuesday, but CSKA avenged that defeat thanks to a stellar shooting night from Ramunas Siskauskas, Trajan Langdon and Matjaz Smodis. The three combined to shoot 12 for 15 from downtown to lead CSKA. The Reds seemed poised to march to the Final Four when they built a double-digit lead in the opening period. However soon Theodoros Papaloukas came off the bench and showed why he’s the reigning Euroleague Basketball MVP with a series of assists that gave his team the momentum as CSKA gained a 38-42 halftime lead. Siskauskas erupted in the third quarter and the CSKA lead swelled to as high as 16. The home team began to look tired and CSKA controlled the game the rest of the way. Some fourth-quarter heroics from Qyntel Woods and Giorgos Printezis helped trim the gap to 8, but Papaloukas made the needed free throws to ice the win. Siskauskas led all scorers with 20 points, Langdon finished with 18, Smodis 17 and Papaloukas recorded 7 points and 7 assists. Woods paced the Reds with 19 points and 7 rebounds and Printezis added 17 points and 7 boards.
Both teams put the ball in the paint for their first baskets coming from Greer and Jake Tsakalidis for Olympiacos and David Andersen for CSKA at 4-2. A Tsakalidis hook followed by Woods free throws gave the hosts an 8-3 lead. Andersen scored from the corner at the shot-clock buzzer, but it was obvious that both teams were paying the most attention to their defense. Greer dished the ball for a nice basket-plus-foul by Printezis as Olympiacos built an 11-5 difference. Theo Papaloukas came off the bench to improve CSKA’s perimeter passing and he dished a couple of assists to Holden and Smodis as CSKA trimmed it to 11-10. However, the hosts reacted with three consecutive three-pointers from Rod Blackney, Printezis and Woods. Greer found a pair from the line to make it 22-13 before Holden’s jumper answered back for CSKA at 22-15. Olympiacos was ready to close the first period in fashion, though; Ioannis Bouroussis connected for a lay-up-plus-free-throw and blocked Nikos Zisis’s attempt on the other end and when Lukas Mavrokefalidis nailed a six-meter jumper, the hosts were ahead 27-15.
Marcus Goree found easy points inside and Langdon copied him to start CSKA’s comeback. Siskauskas was open from behind the arc to get within 5. Woods stepped up, but the guests were now dictating the tempo as Langdon and Sikauskas trimmed it to 29-27. Papaloukas’s presence on the court had changed the momentum; Papaloukas was about to reach 7 assists after two quarters. Milos Teodosic fired in a three-pointer to curb CSKA’s enthusiasm, but soon Andersen cut it again to 32-29. CSKA was now playing some incredible defense forcing Olympiacos to shoot under pressure. Siskauskas rose for a big triple over the hands of Bouroussis, Papaloukas ran the open floor for a layup and when Smodis scored on the offensive boards, CSKA was led 32-36. Woods showed some signs of reaction for Olympiacos, but Siskauskas raised it again to 34-40. Woods bore again offensive responsibility to allow the hosts come as close a 38-42 by halftime.
CSKA continued to dominate on court in the beginning of the third quarter as the guests quickly reeled off 7 points to take a double-digit lead behind the hot hand of Siskauskas. Tsakalidis scored for the Reds, but Siskauskas was in the zone and fired in back-to-back triples to make it 40-55 and silence the crowd. Woods and Greer tried to create their own shots for Olympiacos, but CSKA was now working as a perfect machine on the offensive end as Langdon popped in another three-pointer to make it 44-60. Blakney answered with two layups to bring some hope for Olympiacos at 49-60, but Holden connected at the shot-clock-buzzer. Blakney again scored for the hosts to make it 51-62, but there was much road for Olympiacos to walk as CSKA was controlling the tempo. Smodis nailed his third triple so far to raise it to 51-66. Printezis tipped the ball in and later on scored on another offensive board to get twithin 11, but Langdon was there with the third quarter’s final word after gunning a really difficult three-pointer for 56-70.
Printezis continued to be the go-to-guy for Olympiacos, having scored the hosts’ last 9 points as he began the last period with 7 points of his own. But, Siskauskas was there for CSKA and he made it 61-72. Smodis then nailed another one from behind the arc. Bouroussis made it 63-75 and after three scoreless minutes Woods impressively finished an alley-oop to allow Olympiacos to believe, but Goree nailed an incredible jumper at the shot-clock buzzer to dampen the hosts’ hopes for a possible comeback. Panagiotis Vassilopoulos and Woods found triples from the corner to cut it to 71-79, but Papaloukas was accurate from the line as CSKA sealed the 73-83 win to stay alive and bring the series to Moscow again.
Thursday, April 3, 2008