Photo: EuroLeague

CSKA captain Kyle Hines contributed six points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal to his team’s win against Olympiacos in Thursday’s EuroLeague encounter in Moscow.

Trailing by four points at halftime, the “Army” turned the game around in the third period, outscoring the Greek powerhouse 21-9. Olympiacos was able to tie the game on a Vassilis Spanoulis basket with 1:46 remaining, but CSKA regained the lead after a timeout and kept it to the final buzzer.

“It was definitely the third quarter [that decided the game], we were able to keep them to nine points. I think we switched our mentality a little bit. In the first half, we were a little too passive both ways, and in the third quarter we stepped up our aggression, we were able to get some open shots, open looks. Misha Kulagin came off the bench, and provided us with the energy we needed so much, that was big,” Hines told after the game.

Despite struggling to find his scoring touch in the first three quarters (he scored five points shooting 1-6 from the field), Spanoulis staged his trademark show in the fourth, torching the hosts for 11 points and igniting a comeback that put Olympiacos in a position to win the game.

“He’s been doing it for many years, but I think we did a good job tonight showing maturity when he did make his run, when they as a team made their run, we were able to make plays on the other end. We didn’t put our heads down, but stayed positive, stayed together as a team. He was making shots, and we were making plays back, Will [Clyburn], Cory [Higgins] were making plays, Alec [Peters] had a big three, ‘Chacho’ [Rodriguez] was making big plays all night… I think that shows potential and maturity of our team,” said Hines.

CSKA was lacking forward Nikita Kurbanov, and Nando De Colo’s playing time was limited to only 9:37 due to a strong migraine he had the previous day.

“You show your best in the most adverse moments. Not having Nikita, one of our best perimeter defenders, and Nando, our offensive leader, definitely put us at a little bit of a disadvantage, but I think that we showed that we have the team, and no matter who steps on the floor, they will contribute and make big plays,” explained Hines.

The three-time EuroLeague champion fought his own battle in the paint against Olympiacos’ formidable frontcourt. The Greek “bigs” have size, quickness, athleticism, and talent, and love physical play with a lot of contact, which makes them hard to handle for any opponent.

“I like their style of basketball, I like playing against big guys. They have some tremendously talented players. Obviously, I’ve been playing against [Georgios] Printezis for a long time, [Nikola] Milutinov keeps improving, he’s getting better and better every year, [Zach] Leday is tremendously athletic, versatile, mobile, and big. They have potential, and it definitely wasn’t easy for our forwards and centers tonight, but we were able to pull away and get a win,” concluded the CSKA captain.