It was a record night in more ways than one on Wednesday when CSKA Moscow took the high road to become the first qualifier for the 2021 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four.
CSKA used a 6-35 run spanning the second and third quarters to register a dominant 68-85 victory over Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul to win their best-of-five series 3-0.
The sweep gave CSKA a record ninth Final Four berth in a row, dating back to 2012, surpassing the all-time EuroLeague mark that the club had first set when it reached eight consecutive editions of the season's main event between 2003 and 2010.
It was also CSKA's fourth sweep of a best-of-five playoffs series – setting another new EuroLeague mark, one that CSKA had previously shared with Fenerbahce.
Finally, Game 3 against Fenerbahce showed just how deep and dangerous CSKA's bench can be – historically so, it turned out.
Will Clyburn came off that bench to register career highs of 34 points and a 38 performance index rating. Fellow reserve Iffe Lundberg collected 22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals for his new personal-best PIR of 32. CSKA's third-leading scorer was Johannes Voigtmann, who had 11 points and an 18 index rating. You guessed it, he also began the game on the bench.
All told, CSKA's reserves combined for 74 points, or 87.1%, of the team's total. That was the highest rate of bench scoring in EuroLeague history for a winning team and the third-highest all-time. Again, CSKA broke its own record, the previous one having come when its reserves collected 78 points (84.8%) to 14 by the starters in a 2017-18 regular-season victory against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.
Clyburn, already a known entity as the 2019 Final Four MVP after winning the EuroLeague crown, was there all game on Wednesday for CSKA. But Lundberg is just emerging on the EuroLeague landscape after CSKA signed him from Polish side Zielona Gora in April. The Danish international tallied 13 points in his first EuroLeague game and had 23 points and a 30 PIR in Round 34. After combining for 16 points and a 13 PIR in Games 1 and 2, Lundberg played a huge role in CSKA's run to pull away in Istanbul.
CSKA had cut Fenerbahce's 12-0 start to the game down to 3 points but it was back up to double figures 33-23 after Jan Vesely hit 2 free throws following an unsportsmanlike foul by Nikita Kurbanov. Then it was time for Lundberg to shine.
He scored 5 straight points, assisted Clyburn on back-to-back three-pointers and Shengelia on another basket, then added two more scores of his own as CSKA went up 37-44 just before halftime.
To start the third quarter – while Vesely committed 3 fouls in 77 seconds to get banished to the bench for the rest of the game – Lundberg drained a big three-pointer and assisted Shengelia for triple to complete a 0-14 run to a 39-58 lead.
Fenerbahce never threatened again. CSKA's ride into history was complete, thanks to a historic performance by its bench.