CSKA Moscow grabbed a valuable road win by beating Galatasaray in Group F of the Euroleague Top 16.
It was a back-and-forth battle between the two sides and ultimately a 13-0 run from the Russian champions in the fourth ended up sealing the win. The hosts had a chance to snatch victory but Pops Mensah-Bonsu’s three-point attempt was blocked by Kyle Hines as the buzzer sounded.
Nenad Krstic paced the winners with 24 points as he single-handedly pushed the Muscovites to victory. Hines added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds but his game-saving block on Great Britain international Mensah-Bonsu was the biggest play of the game.
“Tonight we played against a very good and tough team,” CSKA coach Ettore Messina said. “The atmosphere was excellent for the home team. I want to congratulate my players for their great effort to win the game. We are happy to win tonight. It will be a great motivation for us for the future games.”
This result gives Group F an interesting twist with three teams on 5-1 records. CSKA join Real Madrid and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv at the top of the group. Galatasaray, led by 19 points from Ender Arslan drop to 2-4 and are off the pace in the race for qualification to the quarter-finals.
“We are suffering with injuries, especially with the big guys,” Arslan explained.
“Our rotation became limited, but we fought really well to come back in the third quarter. Our lack of energy in the last period was too much to handle. We still have our chances in our hands and will keep on fighting until the end.”
In Group E, Barcelona pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat a stubborn EA7 Milano side 80-70 at the Palau Blaugrana.
The Catalan side remain the only unbeaten side in the Top 16 at 6-0 as their less than impressive start to the season looks to be a distant memory. The talented squad that has been assembled seems to have worked out their roles and the team chemistry is there for all to see.
Brad Oleson led the winners with 17 points, 15 of them coming in the final period of play. Ante Tomic supported Oleson with 16.
“We are very happy with this important win,” Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual said. “Our crowd helped us a lot, being really positive. They knew that we were struggling after losing the Copa del Rey final and we found our rhythm, especially hitting shots, and we managed to win.
“They played slow, using long possessions, but we played good defense against one of the teams that fits us worst in the competition, as their outside players can find a lot of mismatches in one-on-one situations.”
Milano though were no slouches and at 3-3 in the group are still holding their dream of a home Final Four close to their chest.
Keith Langford led Milano with 18 points.