After waiting longer than they are used to, fans in Moscow got to applaud their team's first victory of the season as CSKA downed visiting Unicaja 87-63 in Group C with a spectacular roll after halftime on Wednesday. After starting the game 0 for 10 from three-point distance, CSKA could not miss from the arc while taking the third quarter by 26-5 and cruising after that to the win. J.R. Holden, with 4 triples in that quarter, led CSKA with 21 points, which David Andersen matched with a run of points in the last quarter. David Vanterpool and Sergei Panov added 11 each for the winners, who made 7 of 13 triples in the second half. Unicaja, which came out strong and led by 37-39 at the half, got 17 points from Stephane Risacher. Jorge Garbajosa, the only guest to make a basket in that third quarter, finished with 15, while Marcus Brown had 12 going against the team he had led to consecutive Final Four appearances.
With Carlos Cabezas starting for Pepe Sanchez at point guard, Unicaja got going with a triple by Stephane Risacher. CSKA got on the scoreboard with a rebound put back by Panov, but couldn't hit otherwise while Daniel Santiago scored to put the guests up 2-5. More good offensive rebounding led to Trajan Langdon's first basket, and after Garbajosa broke CSKA's zone defense, Andersen nailed his first for the hosts, a baseline jumper that made it 6-7. Cabezas and Holden traded driving layups, then after the latter's steal, Andersen got CSKA its first lead, 10-9, going up strong inside. Garbajosa landed the game's first free throws, and the lead kept going back and forth from there. Andersen took it back for CSKA inside, then Brown got started by cutting for a layup. He soon reappeared with a corner triple and a fallaway layup to put the guests ahead 15-19. His teammate, Berni Rodriguez finished the quarter with a drive to the basket and Unicaja ahead 17-21.
Garbajosa started the second quarter with a triple for Unicaja's biggest lead yet, 17-24, but Vanterpool at the line and Holden driving steadied CSKA. Panov's second rebound putback made it 23-24. Brown and Holden exchanged two-pointers, but defenses took over until CSKA was able finally to take the lead again, 27-26 on a lane jumper by Langdon. CSKA's defense was forcing Unicaja turnovers now, but after Aleksey Savrasenko and Sanchez traded baskets, Vanterpool got loose for a fastbreak layup-plus-free throw that made it 32-28 for the hosts. Unicaja did not back down. Cabezas drove for a score and Sanchez stole before Garbajosa tied 32-32 off a rebound. More free throws by Vanterpool put CSKA ahead, but Risacher went inside for a basket then added free throws as Unicaja went back in front, 34-36. Smodis came to the rescue, hitting CSKA's first triple in 10 tries for a 37-37 tie with 12 seconds left. Cabezas had time, however, to draw a foul on Holden and stick 2 free throws to leave the guests on top, 37-39 at the break.
Holden started the second half with a game-tying stop-and-pop jumper to which Andersen added a spinning inside shot for a new CSKA lead, 41-39. Except for a free throw by Brown, Unicaja kept missing shots while Vanterpool made free throws and finished a fastbreak that sent the hosts ahead 45-40. Unicaja took a timeout and then looked for Garbajosa, whose hook shot would be his team's first and only basket for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, Panov scored after another offensive rebound and then added a running hook before Holden drilled a fastbreak triple as CSKA's lead reached double-digits, 52-42. Although Garbajosa got another bucket, it came among more CSKA triples, one by Panov and two by Holden, as CSKA pulled steadily away, 63-44, after three quarters.
CSKA's three-point shooting party continued into the fourth quarter, with Holden hitting his fourth triple of the half. Langdon also connected from the arc now, then Andersen and Smodis scored on a jumper and a layup, respectively, as the lead soared to 72-50. Unicaja, thinking ahead, tried to trim the difference in case of future tiebreak situations, and got it under 20 again with a triple by Cabezas and free throws by Risacher. But CSKA, having lost the first two games, was conscious of the same possibilities in the future. Andersen stayed active with 8 points in a row for CSKA, inside and outside, to keep the lead high, at 81-59, before the team's sixth triple of the half fell off the hand of Smodis in the final minute. Not to be outdone, Andersen finished the game with another three-point strike for the highest and final difference, 87-63, as CSKA left no doubt at all about its first victory.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005