De Colo inspires CSKA to hard-earned win over Barcelona
CSKA Moscow held off a stern challenge from FC Barcelona Lassa in a hard-fought and entertaining battle in the Russian capital, triumphing 92-78 to retain a share for first place in the standings. CSKA and Olympiacos Piraeus are both 8-2 at the top of the table while Barcelona dropped to 4-6. The outcome flattered CSKA after a closely contested game that was in the balance for the first 37 minutes. Nando De Colo was the inspiration, registering a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists – the latter tying his career high. He was outscored by Will Clyburn (22 points) and Cory Higgins (20), who both hit a trio of three-pointers, while Semen Antonov added 10 points. Kevin Seraphin and Thomas Heurtel top-scored for Barcelona with 11 points apiece, and Petteri Koponen and Adam Hanga both posted 10.
In a fast-scoring start, early highlights flowed as Rakim Sanders scored an acrobatic layup, while De Colo dished a behind the back assist for Othello Hunter to slam. Adrien Moerman’s triple and a Sanders jumper off the glass gave Barcelona its first lead, 15-16, and a driving layup from Heurtel completed a 0-7 run. That was stopped by an alley-oop lay-up between De Colo and Hunter, and the lead regularly swapped hands before Pierre Oriola scored twice for Barcelona to make it 24-24 at the end of the first. Koponen struck from long-range early in the second to restore Barcelona’s lead, but not for long as Clyburn answered with a triple and more lead changes ensued, highlighted by Koponen’s shot-clock-beating triple for 31-34. That was soon followed by another three from De Colo and fastbreak layups from De Colo and Higgins, but Seraphin grabbed an offensive board and slammed just before the half-time buzzer to keep Barcelona as close as 44-39 at the break.
The second half started slowly before Seraphin dropped in two mid-range shots and Heurtel penetrated to tie the score at 48-48. CSKA answered with a 9-3 run including a triple from Higgins and De Colo’s driving layup, before Clyburn, Sanders and Higgins all struck triples to give the home team a seven-point lead. Adam Hanga’s 7 points in a hurry from kept Barcelona in touch, but Clyburn split free throws to make it 66-58 after three quarters. A technical foul on visiting coach Sito Alonso allowed De Colo to start the fourth with another free throw, but Phil Pressey struck from downtown and Koponen added a jumper to get Barcelona back in it at 67-63. Oriola added another from the foul line but a fierce dunk plus one from Clyburn re-established a six-point gap. Koponen’s long two and Oriola’s free throw pulled it back, and Hanga’s three-pointer tied it up again at 72-72. Sergio Rodriguez and Pressey traded triples, and a three-point play from Higgins made it 78-75 with 4 minutes remaining. An exciting finish beckoned, but De Colo spun to score off the glass, Kyle Hines scored 2 free throws and Rodriguez and Higgins sank triples to cap a 13-0 run and give CSKA a double-digit lead for the first time. Now there was no way back for Barcelona, and the home team enjoyed a final flourish with an outrageous no-look pass from De Colo for Antonov to sink a long two.
Friday, December 1, 2017