Armani Jeans handed reigning champ CSKA Moscow its first loss
Armani Jeans Milano stunned CSKA Moscow 80-79 on Wednesday night behind a big night from a pair of backcourt stars. David Hawkins scored 20 points, the last of which came on a go-ahead basket with 9.1 seconds to go, as Milano handed the reigning champs their first loss of the season. It was a thrilling finish to a game that seemed totally in CSKA’s control when it led 14-34 midway through the second period. But Milano regrouped at halftime and started the third quarter on a 14-2 run to get back in the game. The last period featured seven lead changes and six ties before Hawkins earned his team the win. Luca Vitali shined bright in the biggest night of his young career, shooting 5 for 6 from downtown en route to 17 points and Jobey Thomas, who kept Milano going in the early stages, added 10. With the win, Milano improved to 2-4 in Group D and is only one win out of second place. CSKA fell to 5-1 and missed a chance to become the first team to reach the Top 16 despite outplaying Milano statistically. Zoran Planinic led Moscow with 15 points and 6 assists, Ramunas Siskauskas scored 11 and Trajan Langdon 10.
CSKA won the opening tip and worked the ball down low where Aleksey Savrasenko scored the game’s first basket. Thomas fought through the CSKA defense to get Milano’s first basket. The visitors played patiently on offense as they worked to get good shots en route to a 2-10 lead. Thomas hit back with a triple for Milano, however CSKA continued to dominate at both ends as a Planinic triple gave the champs a double-digit advantage. Milano head coach Piero Bucchi called timeout to talk things over, but it was to no avail. A short Planinic jumper followed by a Terrence Morris slam in transition pushed the lead to 5-21. Vitali hit a long three at the buzzer to make it 8-21 after 10 minutes.
Vitali hit a second, more organized triple to start the second period, but Marco Mordente stopped Siskauskas in the open court and was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul. After Siskauskas made his free throws and Viktor Khryapa drained a three on the resulting possession, CSKA was back in control. Savrasenko scored in the paint to make it 11-30 before Vitali fired in another three-pointer. Khryapa added a baseline jumper to push the lead to 20 only for Vitali to connect on his fourth three at the other end. Hawkins drove for a basket to become just the third Milano player to score. Pape Sow scored his first basket in over a month after an injury as Milano tried to claw its way back. A jumper and a triple by Mordente made it 24-37, but Matjaz Smodis added 4 points from the line to keep CSKA in control, 26-43, at halftime.
Armani Jeans came out for the second half looking far more energized at both ends of the floor. And even though the hosts still needed to work hard for points, the duo of Thomas and Mike Hall got the job done. A Hawkins jumper capped an 11-2 run that made it 37-45 and caused CSKA head coach Ettore Messina to call timeout. Hawkins continued the Milano momentum with a basket-plus-foul in transition to cut the deficit to 5. CSKA finally regained its confidence, causing turnovers on one end and upping its lead to 9 on a Morris two-handed slam at the other. But just as quickly, a Masimo Bulleri jumper was followed by a Yohann Sangare steal and a Mason Rocca basket-plus-foul to make it 45-49 with two minutes left in the period. And after forcing CSKA into a 24 seconds violation, Hawkins cut the gap to 2. Nikos Zisis came away with a layup after a broken play that made it 49-53 heading into the fourth period.
Hawkins plowed through the CSKA defense for a three-point play that brought Milano within 1 at the start of the deciding period. Planinic and Langdon kept CSKA ahead from the line, but Rocca kept it close with a basket on the offensive glass. Hall went over Lorbek for a basket-plus-foul that tied the score and put Milano ahead for the first time all night, 59-58. Siskauskas drilled a three to put CSKA back on top and after Bulleri drove for a layup, Siskauskas buried another triple. Bulleri answered with a bucket to keep Milano within 1. Sow fouled out and Lorbek scored underneath to increase CSKA's advantage, but Vitali’s fifth three-pointer tied the game again. Milano regained the lead on a Hawkins basket-plus-foul with under three minutes to play. And Hawkins then drove to make it 73-70. Langdon buried a three from the corner to tie it once more, but Vitali – with his first shot not from downtown all night – hit 2 free throws to put Milano back on top. Khryapa tied it from the line with 1:20 to play, sending Vitali to the bench with 5 fouls along the way. Milano then turned the ball over and Hall picked up his fifth foul as Langdon put the visitors ahead 75-77 with 2 free throws and just under a minute remaining. Rocca kept a Milano possession alive with a key offensive rebound that led to a Hawkins three-point play and a 1-point Milano lead. Khryapa answered with a bucket in the paint, but Hawkins made a running jumper off the glass to make it 80-79 with 9.1 seconds to play. CSKA took a timeout and designed a play for Siskauskas, but he tripped, lost the ball and Thomas went to the lien with 1.9 seconds to play. After Thomas missed the first, he purposely missed the second and by the time CSKA grabbed the rebound, there was no time left as Milano celebrated a major win over the champs.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008