When he had strength he did not find the spirit and when he hardened his attitude he failed to breathe. Real Madrid paid for their indifference in the first half and conceded a defeat against CSKA that leads them to anguish in the final stretch of the Euroleague, needing at least two wins in the remaining four days. After seeing 20 points down, Laso’s team reacted with several threats of comeback, from 55-72 to 69-74; from 77-90 to 85-90. But CSKA punished Tavares by taking him out of their territory (he was the best assistant on his team with 6 basket passes, but his 31 PIR in 36 minutes on the court was insufficient) and won the triple battle against Carroll, Causeur and Thompkins . First Clyburn (23 points), then James (22) and later Voigtmann (18) imposed the solidity of the Itoudis team against a fickle Madrid condemned to suffering. Asvel, at home; Efes and Olympiacos, at the WZink; and Fenerbahçe, as a closing in Istanbul, mark the roadmap that awaits the whites in their fight to advance to the quarterfinals.
Two classics collided at the WiZink Center in difficult times. Two examples of competitive survival in the midst of convulsive seasons beyond the big picture, with problems, casualties and mismatches. The Itoudis team arrived with a record of seven defeats in the previous 11 games. Opposite, another seven defeats in Madrid’s last 12. In memory, James’ triple in Moscow as a pity at 74-73 in the first round. At stake, a crucial triumph to establish itself in the top eight of the standings, with options even to reach seeded status. Only the visitors found relief. CSKA improved Madrid’s reaction speed thanks to Shengelia’s surprising contribution from the perimeter (11 points, 3 of 4 from 3-pointers in the first five minutes) and set the trend. The whites reacted quickly, with a handful of triples and the growing influence of Tavares to settle accounts (21-23, m. 10), but always with a changed pace.
The beginning of the rotations expanded arguments but also showed the seams of the two teams. He advanced the game mixing delivery and mess, with Clyburn looking for the tuning and Laprovittola the pulse. With Madrid dry without Tavares and CSKA lost without James. But the American escort returned to the track and the first demarraje of the Russian team arrived (30-38, m. 15). Deck then resumed his opposition to an essential player in the Madrid quintet and, around the Argentine, Laso’s men tried to rearm. But those of Itoudis ripped their rival from the perimeter.
James’ four 3-pointers in four attempts made it 35-47 in the 17th minute. By then, CSKA was 10 of 17 on 3-pointers to 4 of 9 for whites, barely sustained by their slight dominance on the rebound. Madrid confused speed with rushing, dropped even more (36-51) and Laso handed over responsibility in the direction to Alocen to the detriment of a thick Laprovittola. The parade to the changing rooms was the cross between the optimism of the Russian team (with James and Clyburn in front, 16 points per beard) and the Madrid tribulations (32 points conceded in the second quarter). “Either we change everything or we will have no options. We are looking at them ”, Laso summed up in the intermission. But the change of attitude of his people in the resumption came varnished in an anxiety that further complicated the mission (43-63, d. 22).
A pair of triples from Causeur and Thompkins prevented Madrid from finally falling apart. But, at the time that Laso tried to put together the heroic one, with Carroll as the artificer and Alocen at the controls, the handy guard was charged with fouls in his clashes with Hackett and Clyburn. He was able to sentence CSKA before entering the home straight with Clyburn’s own fourth triple (55-72, m. 27). However, Madrid’s pride found a bag of points with which to test the miracle. A 14-2 run, with nine points from Carroll and five from Causeur, until 69-74. Five consecutive points from Voigtmann lessened the euphoria of the whites, who finally paid for the effort of the chase and stayed on the shore. It is up to Laso’s team to row more to rescue at least two wins in the four remaining days of the regular phase to enter the top-8 of the Euroleague.