CSKA rallies into Final Four, ends Baskonia's dream
CSKA Moscow advanced to its 16th Final Four in 17 years by rallying from behind to down host KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 83-92 in Game 4 to win their playoff series 1-3. CSKA's second road win in a row at Fernando Buesa Arena ended Baskonia's dream of playing the Final Four there before its own fans. Baskonia led by a high of 55-43 midway through the third quarter but in little more than 10 minutes CSKA erased it all to seize a 76-77 advantage that it refused to give up the rest of the way. Nando DeColo was unstoppable in scoring 27 points for the winners. Cory Higgins followed with 16 points while Nikita Kurbanov had 13 and a team-high 7 rebounds. Baskonia got 19 points from Vincent Poirier. Patricio Garino hit a career-high 5 of 5 three-pointers for 15 points while Johannes Voigtmann added 12 and Toko Shengelia 11 for the hosts.
Kyle Hines returned his own miss and Kurbanov struck from the corner before Shengelia put Baskonia on the scoreboard at 2-5. Layups by Shavon Shields and Marcelinho Huertas got Baskonia closer until put-backs by Voigtmann and Shengelia gave the hosts their first lead, 11-9. Voigtmann kept it going from deep although a three-point play by Higgins tied the game twice before Poirer's free throws left Baskonia up 22-20 after 10 minutes. Poirier dunked twice to make it 26-20. Kurbanov struck from the corner and scored with an offensive rebound, but Garino suddenly responded with triples from either corner to jack up the lead to 35-27. Garino soon hit his third straight from deep paved the way for Poirier and Shengelia to take over inside with a pair of baskets each for the game's first double-digit lead, 46-35. Othello Hunter followed a miss for CSKA and De Colo drilled a turnaround jumper through a double-team to set the halftime score at 48-39.
Shengelia and Huertas, from deep, reestablished a double-digit lead at 55-43, after the break. De Colo kept it going, however, with a pair of layups, the second off a steal. Poirier responded with a big dunk and even bigger block while De Colo and Voigtmann exchanged three-pointers as the difference held at 66-56. Higgins joined De Colo in trimming the difference until Kurbanov drilled from the corner and Will Clyburn followed him to get CSKA within 71-68 at the end of three quarters. De Colo and Hilliard exchanged post-ups and Hines dunked a loose ball before Garino returned with his fourth triple at 76-72 early in the final quarter, but De Colo matched him at 76-75. CSKA's 12th offensive rebound led Hines to score the go-ahead basket at 76-77 with 6 minutes left. Clyburn's three-pointer and De Colo's lob layup made it 76-82 with less than 3 minutes left. Baskonia could not get unstuck offensively as Kurbanov and Joel Bolomboy raised the difference to double digits, assuring CSKA of another trip to the Final Four.
CSKA is now 14-0 in playoffs series since its first one in 2005. Five were sweeps, a EuroLeague record; nine lasted four games; and one, in 2014 against Panathinaikos, came down to Game 5. Since 2003, CSKA has failed to reach the Final Four just once, in 2011, when it was eliminated by the end of the regular season.
Two nights after scoring his career high of 28 points in a Game 3 victory, De Colo scorched Baskonia for 27 more. Perhaps the most important were back-to-back two-pointers within 40 seconds of Baskonia taking a 55-43 advantage shortly after halftime. He would finish that third quarter with 11 points as CSKA pulled within 71-68, making it a new game.
Did you know?
CSKA won two road games in a playoffs series for the first time. It happened only five other times in 43 series to date, including by Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in these playoffs.
Late miss covered
Baskonia's task got tougher even before the game started with the announcement that shooter Matt Janning could not play due to a foot injury. However, Patricio Garino stepped in the same role and made a career-high 5 triples in 5 attempts, which matched the third-highest perfect total from the arc in playoffs history.
CSKA will return to Vitoria-Gasteiz to play a semfinal on May 17 against Real Madrid, which won its series in a sweep over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. In their only previous semis meeting at a Final Four, last season, Madrid won and went on to become champion.
Friday, April 26, 2019