I was lucky to witness two great games this Euroleague season where CSKA tried to revenge on Zalgiris for most vulnerable 3 losses of the last year. I wish this all time interest arising basketball super series never end.
The two matches were different like black and white. Moscow battle was of great pressure where hosts were trying to balance defense-offense game and not to let Zalgiris run away.
In the First game (Moscow Nov 21 overtime performance) CSKA used 2 Russian players Vorontsevich and Kurbanov who didn’t score a single point finishing without rebounds or assists. As for Zalgiris, they put on court 5 national players from the bench Birutis, Milaknis, Grigonis, Ulanovas and Kavaliauskas scoring 45 together (Almost one half the final team score 97), grabbing 16 rebounds. Tremendous contribution to team overall figures.
Zalgiris still preserves great tradition of developing young local players making them top Euroleague level which is their distinguishable feature and dignified valued trend other teams can envy.
Two guards -newcomers Walters and Walkup led the greens in Moscow showing effective spectacular wise and fast playing. Walters was the king of the dish out night with 9 assists and Walkup appeared every time from nowhere to get the loose balls and 6 rebounds. They worked as well in pair and substituted each other to keep the Zalgiris aggressive pace.
Mister Sergio Rodriguez flashed with 27 points and 6 of 10 3 pointers with superfast release and right shooting moments selection. He added 6 assists and 2 steals , managed to be fresh during 37 minutes on court.
Zalgiris won Rebound 42 to 35, was better with assists 20 to 15, but executed 11 turnovers comparing to 5 of CSKA guys.
CSKA took the lead due to outstanding long range shots percentage 6 out of 6 3 pointers , with Nando De Colo firing 7 points with no miss. (17-28 CSKA). Jasikevicius desperately rotated the players looking for the best match up squad. Brandon Davies though dominated on both ends inside in the situation of Kavaliauskas deficit. Zalgiris missed Kavaliauskas in the paint a lot and pushed Davies and Jankunas for a help who played beyond expectations.
Davies finished with 19 points, 7 Rebounds and 1 assist, played 29 minutes.
CSKA Joker was Daniel Hackett who executed several clutch shots and added winning spirit within Red Team chemistry. (19 points, 5 /7 from the field and 6/6 FT)
Zalgiris second half Star performance belongs to Marius Grigonis breaking the game in the 3rd quarter by wise defense ( forced several competitors mistakes, taking 3 rebounds )and snatching 3 of 5 3 point shots.
In the end Zalgiris couldn’t keep up using 9 players in active rotation against more experienced Cska soldiers.
CSKA made 10 steals comparing with Zalgiris 5. Also Zalgiris lost the ball 7 times more ( 18/11) respectively losing the last quarter 20-29.
CSKA 5 new players: Joel Bolomboy, Alec Peters, Ivan Ukhov, Daniel Hackett, Andrey Lopatin.
Zalgiris – 7 new players, Derrick Walton Jr, Nate Walters, Thomas Walkup, Leo Westerman, Lauryas Birutis, Marius Grigonis
Euroleague titles: CSKA-7, Zalgiris – 1
Pictures used from Euroleague and CSKA official pages.