By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nando De Colo put on a second straight game-winning performance as he led CSKA Moscow to a 92-83 comeback victory over Baskonia finishing the series 3-1 and advancing to the EuroLeague Final Four. Since 2002, CSKA has only missed one Final Four appearance, back in 2011.
De Colo nailed game-high 27 points (8-11 twos; 3-5 threes) while adding four assists, four boards and four steals for total PIR of 35. Cory Higgins added 19 and Nikita Kurbanov 15 points.
For Baskonia, Vincent Poirier scored 21 points on 7-8 shooting in addition to Patricio Garino’s 16 points (5-5 triples) and Johannes Voigtmann’s 12.
Coach Velimir Perasovic made a tactical decision to start without Vincent Poirier and Baskonia’s smaller lineup played neck-to-neck with CSKA’s being ahead 22-20 after ten minutes. However, once Poirier subbed in, the Spaniards took over until halftime (48-39) led by his 11 and Patricio Garino’s nine points – all from deep.
“We feel great. This is what we wanted. We worked hard during all season to go to the Final Four. But this is just one more step. We need to keep working. We need to give Baskonia a lot of credit. They played really good. Like I said before this game, they’re a really good team. They had a lot of injuries during the season and stepped up at the end, but today we did a great job. We can be happy for the qualification for the Final Four, but the season is not over”, De Colo said.
De Colo logged nine points in the first half but he stepped up even more after the break. The French guard added 11 points in the third quarter as CSKA improved their defense and cut the distance to just three points (71-68). He continued pushing the Russians’ offensive effort but their defense was the key as they allowed only 12 points to Baskonia in the fourth quarter to turn the game around and win.