Spanish Thriller

Kornegay vs Alexander (photo
CSKA Moscow had to fight until the final second before scoring a big 62-65 Group B road win against Unicaja in Malaga on Thursday. CSKA improves to 2-0 and joins Maccabi, another slim winner Thursday at Krka, as the only undefeated teams in the group. The hosts, who drop to 0-2, played without Berni Rodriguez and Moustapha Sonko, while Louis Bullock got injured in the fourth quarter. Marcus Brown of CSKA was the man of the game by making all his 4 free throws in the final minute to seal the win. Brown scored 21 points to lead all scorers while Victor Khryapa added 15 on 6-for-7 field goals. Bullock scored 15 points for Unicaja before he got injured while newcomer Larry Lewis added 14. In its first game under new coach Sergio Scariolo, Unicaja had rallied from 15 points down after one quarter to give its home fans something to hope for in the future of tough Group B.

Unicaja vs CSKA: 62-65

CSKA started the game at full speed, as they used a 0-9 run to take a 2-11 lead, in which all CSKA starters had scored a field goal. Unicaja did not recover after a timeout by Scariolo, as CSKA carried on scoring and the hosts struggled in the offensive end. Marcus Brown and Victor Khryapa scored 5 points a piece to give CSKA a 15-point lead, 6-21, after seven minutes of action. German Gabriel came off the bench to help Unicaja exchange baskets until the end of the opening quarter, in which CSKA kept their lead, 10-25, shooting 10-for-13 from the field while Unicaja shot 4-for-16 field goals.

Risacher made six consecutive points to open the second quarter and bring Unicaja within nine, 16-25. CSKA moved the bench and their second unit managed to keep the lead for their team for a while, 20-32. Unicaja got back into the game with a 7-0 run to make it 27-32 once Louis Bullock started scoring, with Frederick Weis rebounding in both ends of the court, and a final 3-pointer by Larry Lewis, warned by Malaga fans as time was expiring, made Unicaja reach halftime trailing by six, 31-37.

Unicaja got their first lead of the game at 39-37 after their 8-0 opening run in the third quarter, with another triple by Larry Lewis and five consecutive points by Bullock, as the usual sellout crowd in Malaga went crazy. With 41-38, CSKA managed to pull a 6-0 run with two layups by Turkcan and a fast break dunk by Khryapa and get the lead again at 41-44. Both teams went scoreless in the final two minutes, and a two-handed reverse slam coming off the baseline by Khryapa happened to be the last basket of the third quarter, as CSKA led 46-48.

Both teams exchanged baskets early in the fourth quarter, with Chuck Kornegay scoring twice in the post for Unicaja to neutralize back-to-back layups in penetration by Brown. Bullock was accidentally knocked down by Kornegay fighting for an offensive rebound, and without their leader on the court, Larry Lewis stepped up, stealing a ball for a fast break slam and adding a put-back shot to give Unicaja a four-point lead, 58-54, with less than four minutes to go. Four consecutive points by Holden and a three-point play by Monya off a fast break slam gave CSKA a 59-61 lead. Larry Lewis scored a turnaround jumper to tie the game at 61-61, but Brown was fouled with 20.6 seconds to go. Brown fouled Rafael Huertas, who made just one out of two free throws, while Brown made both shots again in the other then to make it 62-65. Unicaja had a chance to tie, but Walter Herrmann missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer which would have taken the game into overtime.

CSKA head coach Dusan Ivkovic:

"It was a tough game. I have seen differences in each quarter, from beginning to end. We started with a tight defensive pressure which allowed us a 15-point lead in the first quarter. We had a good transition but Unicaja reacted in the second period and tied the game. I have seen also different thing in Unicaja. They did their best during the 40 minutes and their experience allowed them to solve the problems they had at the beginning of the game. I have a lot of respect for this team, this city and these fans. Malaga is a great place to come to play."

CSKA forward Sergey Panov:

"In the second quarter, Unicaja was back in the game, and I think that the key to their hard work was the good performance by Bullock. The zone defense helped them to come back to the game, but we did the same later and that helped us to win the game."

Unicaja head coach Sergio Scariolo:

"Tonight CSKA showed everyone which is the highest level in the Euroleague, but we managed to match their level in the second quarter and I think that our production was acceptable. We missed players on court and Im not happy because we lost. We also lack a bit more of discipline, but this is a step forward even though from now on Id like to compete in the Euroleague winning games. CSKA is a team which can run over you if you dont play great, but we knew how to react in time. Our rather weak physical condition didnt allow us to stay in the game in the key moments, but I think that when my players gain more confidence, things will work out."

Unicaja forward Walter Herrmann:
"It was a weird game because in the first quarter we played awful, but I think that the team is starting to find itself and its game. We are gaining confidence game after game and that also earns us more level to achieve success. I still lack the touch that I need to play my best ball, but we all feel that the team is playing with a philosophy that we didnt have before. I am learning a lot with the new coach and Im ready willing to show that I can play in Unicaja."

Victor Alexander (photo
Before the game (photo
CSKA defence (photo
Kornegay vs Alexander (photo
Mirsad Turkcan (photo
Sergey Monya (photo
Marcus Brown (photo
Sergey Monya (photo
Marcus Brown (photo
Sergey Monya (photo
Larry Lewis (photo