An inspirational 30-point game from American forward Sonny Weems helped last season's Euroleague runner-up CSKA Moscow grab their second victory in two games by beating Partizan Belgrade 76-71 in the Serbian capital.
The ex-Toronto Raptor was the top scorer in CSKA’s opening win against Lietuvos Rytas and he did it again Thursday, with eight of his points coming in overtime to seal a dramatic win.
The 26-year-old forward said he had risen to the task of being a team leader.
“I think they trust me now. Especially after the game. I think [CSKA coach Ettore] Messina has a lot more trust in me.” Weems said after the game. “And I’m willing to take on that role.”
Two three-pointers from Partizan’s French guard Leo Westermann gave his team a seven-point lead early on in the game.
But a 10-0 run led by CSKA's Serbian forward Zoran Erceg put the visitors eight up by half time.
Partizan chipped away at CSKA's lead through the second half, and went ahead through another Westermann field goal before the Muscovites struck back.
Partizan's young guard Bogdan Bogdanovich converted two last-minute free throws to go to 16 points and send the game into the overtime, where Weems took over.
CSKA coach Messina lauded Partizan's defensive play.
“Partizan played excellent defense for all 45 minutes, except when we had our big shooting men on the floor.”
But there was little praise for his own players.
“I cannot be happy after the 26 turnovers we had, but it is so important we won the game after letting the 10-point lead fly out of our hands.”
CSKA Moscow lost last season's Euroleague title to Olympiacos in a dramatic May final that the Greeks took 62-61 on Georgios Printenzis' layup 0.7 seconds from the buzzer.
CSKA's next game is in Moscow on Thursday against German team Bamberg.