Former Toronto Raptors forward Sonny Weems earned last season's Euroleague runner-up CSKA Moscow a 75-73 victory over Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas in its 2012-13 season opener.
Weems top-scored with 14 points Thursday, six in the last minute, but was modest about his game-winning performance.
“It’s the first Euroleague game, we've got many more to go, so I can’t call myself a hero after the first game. I’ll call myself a hero when we get the Euroleague championship.”
Two other ex-NBA players Serbian center Nenad Krstic and CSKA captain Viktor Khryapa racked up 12 points apiece.
Lietuvos established a five-point lead in the first quarter as Renaldas Seibutis hit eight of his 19-point haul.
But nine unaswnered points from CSKA put the Russians back in it, and by the end of the first half they were nine ahead on three-pointers from Serbian bench players Zoran Erceg and Vladimir Micov.
But the Lithuanians ate away at the lead and took the lead in the fourth on points from Seibutis, when Weems stepped in to snatch it back for the hosts.
It was too close for CSKA coach Ettore Messina.
“We all know that the teams that are successful at the end of the season don’t allow so many turnovers and don’t allow the opponents so many chances on defense,” he said.
“We have to work to become this kind of a team.”
There was less luck for the other Russian team in the Euroleague, BC Khimki, beaten 92-80 at Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey.
Khimki, a domestic league runner-up for the last seven years, stuck with Fenerbahce early on but ended the second quarter ten points down.
The gap was maintained more or less throughout, with Turkish forward Emir Preldzic converting nine of 10 from the line on the way to a 20-point hail.
Planinic’s 17 points was the best result for the Russian team.
CSKA Moscow lost the Euroleague title to Olympiacos in a dramatic May final that the Greeks won 62-61 on Georgios Printenzis' layup 0.7 seconds from the buzzer.