By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Shane Larkin and Rodrigue Beaubois combined for 48 points and 12 triples in the breathtaking Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 24 affair. Larkin produced 26 points behind 9/18 field goals alongside nine assists and five rebounds, while his French teammate connecting seven three-pointers added 22 points, six rebounds, and three assists. The team led by acting head coach Jakup Sekizkok made 19/34 from downtown.
“We just stayed together,” noted Larkin following the 45-minute contest, “In the third quarter, we got down by 15 points. We took a timeout and decided that we wanted to fight and take possession by possession, and we grinded it out.”
“We know CSKA is a great team and I think we did a great job staying together the entire game, so I think that was the key,” Beaubois echoed the Miami alumnus.
Season and Final Four MVP, Vasilije Micic forced five extra minutes with a late bucket to complete a ten-point effort in the fourth quarter. He ended up with 16 points to his name. Bryant Dunston followed with 12 points despite fouling out with two minutes left in the fourth period.
“We came here with the feeling that the game was going to be tough, hard, a close game, an intense game,” said lead assistant Sekizkok, “We were ready for it.”
For the VTB United League champions, Hackett scored a career-high 31 points, including a crazy four-point play for a two-point lead with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. However, he did not score in the five extra minutes as his side lost for only the seventh time over 28 EuroLeague games opposite the Turkish giant this century. The fourth home loss of the ongoing season forced CSKA down to 13-9.
Besides Tornike Shengelia remaining out with a leg injury and newcomer Allerik Freeman unavailable as well, German center Johannes Voigtmann suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and Joel Bolomboy exited hurting his left hand in the third quarter, limiting frontcourt options for Andreas Pistiolis taking over head coaching responsibilities instead of ill Dimitris Itoudis.
“We had to alter our strategy and when we were short-handed, they managed to punish us in a very few minutes to turn around the difference that we made,” pointed out Pistiolis, “All credit to them for winning the game. They are a good team. They deserved to win tonight. If I went the other way, we would have deserved the win also.”
The team usually guided by Ergin Ataman, defending EuroLeague and Turkey champion, got back even at 11-11 in Europe’s premier club continental competition. James Anderson was held out at Megasport Arena with an ankle injury.
Photo Credit: EuroLeagueBasketball.net