CSKA cruises past Lokomotiv Kuban for 2-0 lead

The red-and-blues led from the start and never looked back as they handed their opponent a second loss in two days.

CSKA Moscow defeated Lokomotiv Kuban 64-54 Tuesday and is now only a win away from capturing its fourth VTB United League title in five years. Defending champions protected home court advantage in the best-of-five series as they posted back-to-back wins against the 2012-13 Eurocup winner. The series continues Thursday in Krasnodar.

CSKA entered the series without injured starters Milos Teodosic (calf muscle) and Alexander Kaun (knee), but its collective effort helped overcome roster problems as Muscovites edged the rival from southern Russia 72-65 in the series opener Monday.

Game 2 brought further challenges to CSKA as point guard Aaron Jackson and forward Andrei Vorontsevich had to leave the floor in the third quarter due to injuries. The American remained sidelined with a bruised hip, while Vorontsevich’s twisted ankle didn’t trouble him for long and he returned to the fold in the fourth period. The hero in CSKA’s decisive semifinal victory against Khimki last Friday had a poor shooting night, ending the game scoreless with five missed shots. However, he was still a key contributor as he grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Vorontsevich’s teammates followed suit and CSKA dominated on the glass, outrebounding the opponent 39-22!

Lokomotiv Kuban trailed during the entire game and after dropping the first three quarters entered the fourth with a 14-point deficit, 36-50. When Sonny Weems opened the quarter with a three-pointer to lift CSKA’s lead to 17, the clock stood at 9:25. In the remainder of the fourth the visitors fought back and won the quarter, but still came up short. Making their first appearance in the five-year-old tournament’s finals, they will now head back home and try to tie the series in front of their own fans. Should they succeed, the decisive fifth game would be played on June 9 in Moscow.