Mike James frustrated Real Madrid again in Moscow. The Oregon guard scored 28 points in 28 minutes and, with the last of his five 3-pointers, decided a vibrant game at Megasport Arena. CSKA seized the victory in a fang and alternation duel in which the whites went 11 up. Later, fatigue diminished Laso’s clarity in the final minutes and the coin came out tails in a frenetic outcome. Thompkins fumbled Mike James twice and hit the triple that made it 70-71 with 24 seconds left. James himself missed the first sentencing attempt for CSKA, but the rebound returned the ball to his hands and, then yes, he nailed the coup de grace, a three plus one from the corner of the court against the defense of Deck and Abalde. Llull threw a quarterback pass after the free throw to take advantage of the remaining two seconds and Tavares picked it up unopposed under the basket. Madrid needed a triple to force the extension but, between innocent and clueless, the Cape Verdean did not get the ball to the perimeter and scored an insufficient basket of two (74-73). Thus the streak of five consecutive victories of the whites in the Euroleague was cut. The Madrid curse was maintained in Moscow, where they have not won since 2008. Sergio Llull (13 points and six assists) collected, by gallons, the witness of Campazzo, and between Tavares (10 rebounds and four blocks), Thompkins, Deck and Randolph maintained long live the flame until the final sprint. But it was not enough for Madrid, inferior in the rebound (44-34) and lacking a pulse in the pithing. Moscow remains impregnable territory.
Laprovittola was the first to take Campazzo’s place in Laso’s quintet, who also surprised with the change from Thompkins to Tavares to open the court and endure the giant. In the double pair dance between the American pivot and Shengelia (9 and 8 points respectively in the first set) and between Lapro and Hackett the command of the game was resolved. CSKA clung to its dominance in the rebound and Madrid to the solidarity and applied circulation of the ball. The Madridistas sharpened concentration and commitment, seeking union strength to compensate for Facu’s departure. But their pulse from the perimeter failed (1 of 6 in starting triples) to prop up their staging. As if it were a handball rotation, the best local shooter, Mike James, and the best visiting defender, Jeff Taylor appeared on the court at the same time. And, from the chess movements, a balanced pulse resulted, with a slight margin for whites in the first quarter (17-20, m. 10).
For the second act, Laso’s mix in the direction was Alocén-Llull, with Tavares already on the track. The Cape Verdean tower appeared when Itoudis’ inside starting pair, Shengelia-Milutinov, went to the bench to catch their breath and Madrid took advantage of the circumstance to establish themselves in the game with greater consistency under the hoops and the triples of Llull and Randolph. The Menorcan showed hierarchy and hit the mark, who, with his second bingo since 6.75, gave his team a +11 income (25-36, m. 15). However, the momentary departure from the court by Randolph (to repair a blow to his left thigh) weakened the Madrid attack and a blast from James warmed up his team. The fight and the score were balanced again after a 10-0 (35-36) run. Laso’s men came to rest with 10 assists distributed, two steals, only three turnovers and six caused in the rival record. Numbers of a cooperative performance that CSKA tried to compensate with chest blows, one against one. “We have controlled the ball, but we have to correct situations in defense,” Laso said in the intermission.
Rudy and Felipe were missing from the Madrid rotation and Laso repeated his starting five at the restart. Although a blow from Milutinov on Thompkins sent him quickly to the bench to reposition the lens. The American returned quickly to control a vigorous Shengelia. Madrid suffered to sustain the exchange of blows in that section and, with the scoring contribution of Clyburn and the rebounds of Milutinov, those of Itoudis took a run for the first time in the match (51-47, m. 27). But Carroll and Llull came to the rescue and also a soothing triple from Abalde arrived when the accounting of the whites from the perimeter reflected a withered 7 of 22 in triples (58-55, m. 30). Again with Llull in command, Madrid clung to the game with all the consequences (60-61, m. 33). However, Carroll fallen in combat (sprained ankle) and Randolph, also hit, left the visiting rotation lame and James recovered his rifle. Without respite, the star of the Muscovite team challenged himself in a duel against everyone and the Madrid defense sweated to contain the onslaught (70-66, m. 37). A triple by Abalde made the tie and Llull missed two key free throws, but an unsportsmanlike performance by Hackett on Deck and Tavares’ collection of blocks allowed Laso’s team to rush their options. Not even three offensive rebounds were enough for them in an action that ended with the referees signaling a pinpoint footprint by Randolph on the sideline. Later, James became bigger than anyone in the moments of fear and Madrid lost again at Russian roulette.