Friday’s Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clash between CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Istanbul was arguably a dress rehearsal for the final. Certainly these two clubs will be in contention through the Final Four this season? As it was, multiple former champ and league leader CSKA Moscow edged out current EuroLeague champs Fenerbahce. If this game is to be repeated during the Final Four weekend, the narrow CSKA win does little to tell us which team would emerge victorious in knockout hoops. However, a message was sent considering the Russian giant picked this win on the road.
That said, CSKA is clearly having a wonderful season and this success pushed the team to 21-5, a win next week will guarantee first place in the standings. As for Fenerbahce, like Moscow, the Turkish club has already qualified for the play-offs. In the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings, the champs drop to 18-8 in a tie for second place.
This was a close contest and both teams traded buckets and the lead during the first half. However, the visitors managed to sneak ahead through each frame, taking the first 23-25 and the second 17-19 for a 40-44 advantage through the long break. In the third act Fenerbahce hit back with a roaring 18-10 run that allowed the hosts to lead 58-54 through thirty minutes. However, CSKA wrestled back the momentum in the fourth quarter with a 20-27 run. Indeed, the game was tied 79-79 with 11.1 seconds on the clock. It was left to former EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo to settle the game for CSKA with a buzzer-defying effort.
Andrey Vorontsevich led the scoring with 17 points for the winners, while Kyle Hines and Cory Higgins dropped 15 points apiece. De Colo was a threat with 13 points and 8 assists in the victory.
Nicolo Melli paced Fenerbahce with a game-high 18 points, with Jan Vesely adding 13 points and 7 rebounds in the losing effort.