CSKA outlasts Olympiacos in battle of heavyweights
CSKA Moscow survived a stern test from visiting Olympiacos Piraeus for a 69-65 victory in a clash of titans on Thursday in the Russian capital. The result leaves CSKA undefeated through five games, while Olympiacos fell to 3-2. The decisive run was a 17-4 third-quarter surge for the hosts that Sergio Rodriguez ignited with a pair of triples. Rodriguez tied his career-high with 6 three-pointers and finished with 20 points. Will Clyburn tallied 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals and Cory Higgins added 11 points for the winners. Vassilis Spanoulis paced Olympiacos with 16 points and 6 assists, Georgios Printezis scored 14 and Nigel Williams-Goss 13.
Tough defense on both sides led to a 2-2 score after three minutes before Olympiacos got going with buckets from its big men, Nikola Milutinov and Printezis and led 4-10 midway through the first quarter. Rodriguez heated up for the hosts and Clyburn threw down a wicked slam, but a Williams-Goss triple helped the Reds to a 13-15 edge after 10 minutes. Kyle Hines tied the score with the first basket of the second quarter, but another Williams-Goss three sparked a 0-7 run for the visitors. Printezis added his first three of the season for an 18-27 advantage, which prompted CSKA coach Itoudis to call timeout. Rodriguez stepped up with back-to-back threes, which helped the hosts stay close, 31-35, at halftime. Rodriguez drained his fifth and sixth triples on consecutive possessions to give CSKA its first lead of the second half, 41-39. By this point, the momentum was all with the hosts, who turned it into a 17-4 march for a 50-41 lead, which stood at 52-44 at the end of the third quarter. Zach LeDay's hustle inside kept Olympiacos alive and a Spanoulis three cut the deficit to 54-50. The legendary guard connected twice more from downtown to even the score at 61-61 with three minutes to play. Free throws by Clyburn put CSKA back in front and Olympiacos missed its next three shots as the hosts hung on for the victory.
CSKA relies on defense
A club best known for its offensive prowess, CSKA relied on defense to outlast Olympiacos. The 69 points scored was both the lowest in a home game in the Dimitris Itoudis era and also the fewest the team had scored in a victory since Itoudis took the helm in 2014.
One decisive quarter
One decisive quarter was enough for CSKA to win the game. The hosts dominated the third 21-9, but Olympiacos won each of the other three. In that one quarter, not only did CSKA make 3 of 7 shots (42.9%) from downtown, compared to 6 of 17 (35.3%) the rest of the game, but also forced Olympiacos into 7 turnovers. Olympiacos turned the ball over only 5 times in the other 30 minutes.
A night to forget for De Colo
Nando De Colo had been suffering from a migraine, which caused him to miss practice on Wednesday, but the CSKA medical staff gave him something to get him ready for the game and Coach Itoudis decided to give his All-EuroLeague guard a chance. However, he realized by halftime that De Colo simply didn't have it and did not use De Colo at all in the second half. The result was De Colo being held scoreless for the first time in 139 career EuroLeague games.
Both teams play road games next week, though their respective travel times differ greatly. CSKA visits AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan on Thursday. Olympiacos faces archrival Panathinaikos OPAP in the big Athens derby on Friday night.
Saturday, December 1, 2018