LONDON, May 12 (R-Sport) – CSKA Moscow recovered some pride Sunday by beating Barcelona 74-73 to take third place at Euroleague basketball’s Final Four in London.
CSKA bounced back from a 69-52 semifinal crushing by Olympiacos on Friday and responded well to coach Ettore Messina’s pleas for the players to show dedication and teamwork in the third-place game instead of playing like “a bunch of rabbits.”
Barcelona leave London winless but could have snatched victory in the final seconds when Marcelinho Huertas’ two-point shot bounced off the rim.
"Survival of the fittest," CSKA guard Aaron Jackson said of the hectic finish, in comments to R-Sport.
"We stuck with it, especially on defense, to the end and we came away with the win."
Barcelona center Erazem Lorbek, himself a former CSKA player, said Barcelona failed to make the most of its scoring opportunities.
"I think it was a good game and we had our chances in the end. We just couldn’t take them, couldn’t win," he told R-Sport.
Viktor Khryapa top-scored for CSKA with 16 points, while Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with 17.
CSKA laid the groundwork for the win with a 24-19 third quarter to lead 59-54 and defended well early in the fourth but Barcelona pushed back to go within three with two layups from ex-CSKA player Erazem Lorbek.
With two minutes on the clock, a dunk from Khryapa boosted CSKA but Barcelona replied immediately with a three-pointer from Juan Carlos Navarro to leave it at 70-68 to CSKA. Lorbek then missed a simple layup that would have leveled the score, but Ante Tomic did not miss his chance, leveling it with a minute remaining.
Sasha Kaun rebounded and scored to take CSKA 72-70 ahead but Navarro replied with another three-point stinger. Arron Jackson sent two free throws through the hoop to restore a one-point CSKA lead with 27 seconds to go, and it proved enough when Huertas missed.
The Russians started quick in the first quarter, with Viktor Khryapa rattling in three two-pointers as CSKA sped to an 11-5 lead but was pegged back to 15-12 by Barcelona by the end of the opening 10 minutes.
The second quarter was even all the way and ended 35-35. Barcelona’s Marko Todorovic was the standout player in that part of the game, with five points, an assist and two rebounds.
Both teams now return to action in other competitions – CSKA faces Krasnye Krylya in game one of the VTB League quarterfinals Thursday, while Barcelona takes on Lagun Aro GBC in the Spanish league the same evening.
Later Sunday, Olympiacos and Real Madrid play the Euroleague final.