Abrines, Mirotic led Barcelona past CSKA
In a battle of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouses, FC Barcelona had a strong start to the season by downing CSKA Moscow 76-66 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Brandon Davies led the winners with 18 points, Nikola Mirotic added 17 and Alex Abrines scored 13 for Barcelona. Toko Shengelia paced CSKA with 15 points, Mike James added 13 and Daniel Hackett 11. Mirotic and Davies fueled a 10-0 run, which helped Barcelona to a 24-14 lead after 10 minutes. Barcelona held a 41-33 margin at halftime, but CSKA managed to get within 57-55 early in the fourth quarter. Abrines and Davies led a 14-2 run that sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Ivan Ukhov got CSKA going with a three-pointer before Cory Higgins and Mirotic gave Barcelona its first lead, 4-3. Shengelia took over with an alley-oop layup and got help from James and Johannes Voigtmann to restore a 7-9 CSKA lead. Mirotic and Abrines each struck from downtown, igniting a 10-0 run that Davies capped with a huge slam. Darrun Hilliard followed a triple with a close jumper, but Davies and Adam Hanga fueled another 7-0 run that Nick Calathes capped with a layup to make it a double-digit game, 24-14, after 10 minutes. Joel Bolomboy and Hanga traded baskets early in the second quarter and then Davies added a dunk-and-foul for a 29-17 Barcelona lead. Will Clyburn found his first basket, but so did Thomas Heurtel and Rolands Smits, which caused CSKA to stop the game at 33-19. Hackett buried back-to-back triples and Shengelia added a put-back dunk that gave the visitors hope at 36-27. Mirotic stepped up with consecutive layups, but Shengelia and Clyburn drew CSKA within 41-33 at halftime.
Mirotic scored again immediately after the break and fed Abrines for a bomb from downtown for a 46-35 Barcelona lead. Calathes joined the three-point shootout, but Hackett and Clyburn kept pushing CSKA and Bolomboy dunked, which prompted the hosts to stop the game at 51-44. Barcelona found answers on offense through Mirotic and Davies to keep a 55-48 margin after 30 minutes. Shengelia buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter and James dunked to bring CSKA even closer, 57-55. Abrines gave Barcelona fresh air with a triple and a dunk-and-foul in an 8-0 run that made it 65-55. The hosts excelled on defense when it mattered most and Calathes nailed a step-back jumper to seal the outcome, 71-57, with 3 minutes left. CSKA never recovered.
Nikola Mirotic picked it up where he left off last season, making the difference in this game with a great all-around performance. He finished the game with 17 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, 4 steals and 6 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 22.
Mike James and Toko Shengelia brought CSKA within 57-55 early in the fourth quarter. Barcelona needed a go-to guy and Alex Abrines stepped up with a critical three-pointer and a wild dunk-and-foul. The hosts never looked back after that moment.
Barcelona shot the ball better from all distances and outrebounded CSKA 33-27. The hosts made 59.5% of their shots inside the arc and 42.9% from three-point territory. CSKA made only 46.9% two-point shots and 29.6% from downtown.
Did you know?
For the first since 2013, Barcelona won its first showdown of the season against CSKA. In the last five previous seasons, CSKA always beat Barcelona in the teams' first game of the season.
Both teams return to the competition on Thursday, October 8. CSKA hosts Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in a rematch of the 2006 and 2008 EuroLeague championship games. That same day, Barcelona visits Zenit St Petersburg. Xavi Pascual, the last coach to win a EuroLeague title with Barcelona in 2010, is with Zenit now.
Thursday, October 1, 2020