CSKA Moscow had to dig deep against a resilient Galatasaray in Turkey to take a 71-74 road win to move back to the top of Group E.
The Russian club slipped off the summit of the table last night as Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv and Real Madrid grabbed wins on Thursday to leap frog CSKA. However, Moscow claimed a hard fought win this evening to go top once more, although all three teams are locked with a 5-1 record. It was a tense and close game throughout the four quarters and the visitors needed to wait until the dying seconds to seal the deal.
CSKA´s Euroleague season is gathering plenty of momentum the deeper into the Top 16 phase we go. The club started this round with a loss but has since won five consecutive ball games to take command of Group E and once again be one of the premier forces on the continent. Galatasaray will be encouraged by the performance tonight, but ultimately the hosts will see this defeat as an opportunity missed. The Turkish club stays in contention in the group but drops to sixth with a 2-4 record.
Galatasaray opened the game with some showtime Basketball courtesy of an arena rocking alley-oop dunk from Pops Mensah-Bonsu. However, CSKA caused some early worry for the hosts thanks to a two pointer and successful free throws from Nenad Krstic, alongside a dunk for Kyle Hines. Galatasaray emerged from a timeout in a better mood as Mensah-Bonsu layed up and Cenk Akyol nailed from downtown. The Gala home fans were in typically vibrant mood and made their presence felt as the team rallied back into contention during the first. However, the players or the fans could not wrestle the lead from CSKA Moscow, and the visitors led 21-23 with ten minutes on the clock.
CSKA tactician Ettore Messina turned to his bench at the start of the second period and the backup unit proved their worth. Vitaliy Fridzon, Aaron Jackson, and Vladimir Micov collected scores to build a fantastic 0-13 run that put CSKA in charge of the game (21-33). It was a worrying start to the second quarter for Galatasaray as the team went the first 5 minutes of the period without troubling the scoreboard. However, once again the hosts responded on the back of great support to reduce the deficit thanks to a triple and buzzer beating rainbow from Ender Arslan. Halftime descended on the Abdi Ipecki Arena and Galatasaray had done a great job in getting the score to 37-40.
The Turkish team had weathered the first half storm and remained in touch. It became clear early in the third that the second half would be a much tighter affair as both teams went for the win. Mensah-Bonsu was once again involved in an alley-oop slam, but Viktor Khryapa hit three for CSKA and was backed up by another triple from the impressive Krstic (39-47). Carlos Arroyo had been showing his quality all game for Galatasaray and he was involved in a third quarter comeback that resulted in the home team taking the lead for the first time since minute one. With 30 minutes on the clock and just one quarter to play, the hosts finally held an advantage at 58-56.
Gala´s lead did not last long as Krstic and Hines scored early in the fourth to hand the initiative back to CSKA Moscow. Once again the Russian team closed shop and this time shut out Galatasaray for six minutes during the final stanza. The shutout proved pivotal as the visitors hauled 11 points during that time to take a healthy 58-67 advantage into the final two minutes of the contest. Once again Galatasaray rallied and Arroyo gave the team hope with seconds on the clock, while Mensah-Bonsu had a three point shot to send the game to overtime. It was not to be though as Hines shut out the effort to secure victory for CSKA.
Krstic capped off a wonderful display with a game high 24-points for Moscow, while Kyle Hines grabbed a double-double 11 points and 11 rebounds. Ender Arslan was out in front for Galatasaray with 16 points, with Carlos Arroyo adding 16 points and 9 assists. Mensah-Bonsu was also in double-double action by recording 12 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort.