CSKA Moscow lifts Euroleague trophy again!
CSKA Moscow wrote another chapter in its illustrious Euroleague Basketball history by defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 77-91 on Sunday night for the 2008 Euroleague title – its sixth continental championship crown and second in the past three years. CSKA's victory over Maccabi at the Community of Madrid Sports Palace in the Spanish capital moves the Russian powerhouse into second place on the all-time list behind only Real Madrid's eight crowns. Trajan Langdon was named Final Four MVP after posting 21 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting and 7 rebounds to lead six CSKA scorers in double figures in victory. J.R. Holden added 14 points, Matjaz Smodis, David Andersen and freshly crowned Euroleague MVP Ramunas Siskauskas scored 13 points apiece and Theo Papaloukas added 12 to give the Russian champs another title to add to their trophies from 1961, 1963, 1969, 1971 and 2006. CSKA also defeated Maccabi in the 2006 final in Prague. Head coach Ettore Messina, who before the game announced that he had re-signed for another season in Moscow, won his fourth Euroleague title, moving into a tie for second place all-time with legends Pedro Ferrandiz, Alexander Gomelskiy and Bozidar Maljkovic, all of whom trail only Zeljko Obradovic of Panathinaikos. The game was a close affair for the first half, which ended with CSKA ahead only 41-42. CSKA started to pull away thanks to its defense in the third quarter and a 0-10 charge to start the fourth settled things early. Will Bynum paced Maccabi with 23 points, Esteban Batista added 14 and Terence Morris 13 in defeat.
Maccabi head coach Zvi Sherf opted to give Bynum his fourth start in 24 games to go against Holden as the game got underway. Nikola Vujcic was first to score on a five-meter jumper and then he fed Omri Casspi for a three-point play, good for a 5-0 Maccabi lead. CSKA missed several open shots in the opening minutes until Langdon sank a corner triple. He followed it with free throws to tie the game at 5-5. CSKA was its usual self on defense and while a left-handed layup by Andersen gave his team its first lead, 5-7. Casspi scored in the low post, but Siskauskas answered with a second-chance layup. Bynum provided a highlight with a power layup – and the free throw that came with it. Smodis tied the game with a free throw as CSKA became more aggressive at both ends now. Papaloukas checked into the game and then back-to-back three-pointers by Holden and Langdon gave CSKA a 10-16 edge. Morris answered from downtown before Andersen broke the 100-point barrier in his personal Final Four history with a turnaround jumper. Casspi continued his strong start for Maccabi with a driving basket, but he and Bynum missed free throws. Marcus Goree made both attempts for CSKA to make it 15-20. Batista came in and shined with a power layup and soon added free throws to get Maccabi within 19-21. Morris scored in penetration, but a free throw by Papaloukas gave CSKA a 21-22 edge after 10 thrilling minutes.
Batista got the crowd involved with a big put-back layup, but Andersen immediately answered with a six-meter jumper. Morris took over with a driving layup that put Maccabi back ahead, 25-24, early in the second quarter. Papaloukas buried one from downtown, but Batista stayed unstoppable with a reverse layup and a tip-in to restore a 29-27 Maccabi edge. Smodis shined with a three-point play as CSKA had managed to readjust its trademark man-to-man defense. Langdon sank his third triple in as many attempts, causing Maccabi to call timeout at 29-33. Bynum stepped up with an acrobatic basket, which Holden matched with a floating layup. CSKA tried to get Siskauskas involved in one-on-one situations against David Bluthenthal, but it was Langdon who sank yet another bomb from downtown for a 31-38 lead. Bynum made foul shots and added a wild driving layup to bring Maccabi back to life. CSKA called timeout to change its game plan, as Siskauskas was not finding space on offense and returned to the bench. Bluthenthal, now guarding Papaloukas, downed an open three-pointer to cap a 7-0 run and ties the game at 38-38, but Smodis’s free throws soon put CSKA back ahead. Papaloukas ran the length of the court for a layup and Maccabi called timeout to get ready for the final play. Bynum sank a three-pointer and got fouled, but missed the additional free throw and the score settled at 41-42 for a slim CSKA edge at halftime.
CSKA tried to slow down the tempo after the break and a three-pointer by Holden gave his team a 41-45 edge. Holden struck again from downtown to make it a 7-point game. CSKA started to face severe foul trouble, however, as Goree and Smodis had committed 3 apiece. Bynum made free throws, but Andersen immediately answered with an easy basket. Maccabi started to have trouble rebounding at both ends, while CSKA tried to run its offense through Langdon without much success. CSKA excelled in defense though, making Maccabi miss one tough shot after another. Meanwhile, Andersen buried another turnaround jumper for a 43-52 CSKA margin. Bynum tried to ignite his team's comeback with free throws, but Langdon kept CSKA in control. Batista scored in penetration, but Andersen immediately answered from downtown. Batista did not miss from the foul line, however Tomas Van den Spiegel came in and got the CSKA fans involved with a two-handed dunk, causing Maccabi to use a timeout at 49-58. Bluthenthal nailed a fade-away jumper, but Alex Garcia missed an uncontested layup. Langdon kept pacing CSKA with free throws, but Morris got Maccabi within 52-60. Casspi committed an unsportsmanlike foul from Van den Spiegel and his free throw gave CSKA a 52-61 edge. More foul shots by Casspi and Siskauskas and a three-pointer by Bynum fixed the score at 57-63 after 30 minutes.
CSKA tried to put the game out of reach with a Siskauskas three and its typical hard defense, however while Maccabi struggled to score, it was up to the challenge on defense. Yotam Halperin made his first appearance of the second half, but it was to no avail. Smodis free throws gave CSKA its first double-digit lead and then the star forward drilled his first three-pointer of the Final Four after 10 misses, giving CSKA a 57-71 lead and prompting an urgent Maccabi timeout. But it was to no avail, as Smodis and CSKA continued to pull away. Bynum finally ended a four-and-a-half minute scoring drought with a layup, but CSKA had already scored 10 unanswered points in that stretch. A Garcia layup gave the Israeli fans hope and another acrobatic Bynum drive made it a 10-point game. Siskauskas free throws put CSKA up 63-75 with just over three minutes to go and then a Langdon follow-up signaled the start of the CSKA fans’ celebrations. Papaloukas got his points in as the final minutes played out and the outcome was clear.
Sunday, May 4, 2008