CSKA shrugged off its first loss of the season from the previous week by making its homecourt in Moscow look strong as ever in a blowout 90-75 win over visiting Real Madrid on Thursday. The final score was deceptive in its kindness, because CSKA led by 15 or more almost continuously after the first quarter and was up by 25 in the fourth before relaxing down the stretch. CSKA's scorers almost took turns with scoring streaks, with Darius Songaila (15 points) dominating the opening quarter, J.R. Holden and Nikos Hatzivrettas (13 each) the second and Chris Gatling (14) the third. Alexander Bashimov chipped in with 11 more for the winners, who assured themselves at least a share of first place in Group D at 4-1. Real Madrid, who dropped to 2-3 overall, got 16 points from Derrick Alston, 11 from Lucas Vitoriano and 10 from Alberto Herreros, but 19 turnovers and an inability to get the ball inside doomed the visitors.
Almost from the start, CSKA did everything it wanted, especially on the offensive end. Songaila got his game going first, hitting 2 three-pointers amid 10 points total in the first 7 minutes. Holden wasn't far behind, with a pair of his own from long distance. Hatzivrettas was getting to the basket also, for 5 points, and finally Bashminov and Panov started scoring inside. Madrid was holding its own based on the scoring of Alston until a 13-0 run in the middle of the quarter blew CSKA way ahead. That run came with the bulk of 6 Madrid turnovers on the quarter, as CSKA's defense kept the visitors from getting into their offense over and over again. Holden was pressuring the ball constantly, and although Michael Hawkins was able to get loose for 5 points, the offense usually ended with a late pass to Alston, who move on his own. As a result, CSKA led 25-15 after 10 minutes.
The second quarter was more of the same, as another Holden three pushed the CSKA lead to 31-19. After Alston revived Madrid with 5 consecutive points, Panov scored inside and Bashminov stepped out behind the arc for another CSKA bomb and a 36-22 lead. Madrid could only score in fits, with Alberto Herreros finally getting some points in an 0-8 run, but that only helped the visitos cut the lead to 39-29. What's more, CSKA had its own answers, with Hatzis and Holden scoring the next 5 between them. Alston then went the bench with his third foul, and though Madrid held within 44-33 a minute later, CSKA was poised to take advantage. A 6-1 run to finish the half was punctuated by Zakhar Pachoutine making his first shot, a three-pointer, and CSKA hit the lockerroom with a commanding 50-34 lead. Holden had 13 points for CSKA, Songalia the same 10, and Alston led everyone with 14 for Madrid.
The third quarter proved why CSKA is a real contender, not because the hosts added to their big lead, but because the did so with a whole new cast of scorers. Sergei Monya got the half started with a three-pointer, and then CSKA started punching the ball inside to Chris Gatling, who had not scored in the first half. After Gatling put in 4 points for a 59-39 lead, Madrid tried to get some consistent scoring from Alfonso Reyes, Herreros and Alain Digbeu. The only problem was that Monya was good for another triple, Gatling another running lefthand hook inside, and Hatzivrettas three. Gatling would have 13 points in the quarter as the CSKA lead hit 71-51.
Songalia had sat out more than two full quarters, but his return in the fourth ended whatever slim hope Madrid held of a comeack. With his two fine turnaround jumpers on the baseline sandwiched around a fastbreak layup by Hatzivrettas, the CSKA lead reached its highest, at 78-53, after a couple minutes. Now, Lucas Vitoriano's back-to-back threes for Madrid did not matter except to dress up the final score, which Madrid did the rest of the way. It was a rough trip all the way 'round for the visitors, who were stranded 15 hours en route to Moscow. Then, CSKA never let them in the game.
Thursday, November 7, 2002