The Russian week of Baskonia ended below zero, but if in St. Petersburg the disappointment was great against a weak opponent, as unexpected, and also, after having the score in favor in the final minutes, Moscow can qualify as another shape. The CSKA, a fearsome rival, had all the ballots to win and won, but Baskonia revealed another image, especially in the first quarter and the last. He gave his face when it seemed that they were going to leave, and although the defeat puts him in a delicate situation, far from the playoffs, some green shoots could be seen.
Above all, the growth of Youssouopha Fall. The Senegalese French passport giant does not increase in centimeters, which is already 221, but in importance within the Ivanovic team. In the Vitoria match, against the same rival, the Russian pivots already made the night bitter, and in Moscow he returned to be the owner under the basket. He scored 19 points, picked up ten rebounds and always intimidated his rivals. His Achilles heel, the free kick, is gradually improving. He received nine fouls, a barbarity, threw 12 times from the line and missed five shots.
Baskonia lost by four points, but it was not those free throws that Fall did not score, no, but the disconnection suffered by the team at the beginning of the second half, when CSKA left on the scoreboard. With a small closet bottom – Henry is getting used to playing more than 35 minutes per game – forces sometimes fail. It seemed that the Russian push was going to be final, with 19 points of difference, Mike James pounding on each pitch and the Vitorian team giving two or three shots at each Russian attack. In front of a team with the quality of which Itoudis leads, it is impossible to sustain.
But there are situations in which failure is generated from success. In the CSKA, with the light so favorable, everyone wanted to make war on their own. James disappeared on the bench to take a break, and the team got messy and lost the north. It was noted, especially in the last quarter. As the Russian team had done in the rest of the game, Baskonia became a crushing team, firm in defense and more accurate in attack. The cold efficacy of Muscovites in the second and third quarters changed sides. There the best Baskonia was seen, with character, reducing differences and provoking the wrath of Itoudis. The Greek coach, a great conversationalist with the referees, discharged his frustration in the dead times, reminding his players of other games lost due to excessive relaxation.
It remained to be known whether Baskonia would have time to rectify at all, but he did not give it. Two minutes to go, the CSKA still held nine points apart, one minute, a triple by Janning reduced the margin to five points.
James didn’t shake his hand to score four free throws and go to 33 points. That kept the difference of the CSKA that stayed in four points at the end, after a partial scandal for Baskonia (19-32). He ended up losing the Basque team, but from the defeat of Megasport you can draw positive conclusions.
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