CSKA Moscow, Russia vs. «Triumph» Lyubertsy, Russia

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Newcomers show spunk against champions

In Week 9 of the regular season, Moscow’s CSKA held off Lyubertsy’s Triumph at home, 80-71. The game remained even through 2½ quarters of play until Viktor Khryapa led the army men on a 10-0 run, ending Triumph’s chances at an upset.

Intro
Despite CSKA and Triumph’s rich history in the Russian league, this was their first VTB United League encounter. The league newcomers intended to put up a fight against the champions. In preparation for the game head coach Vasily Karasev even kept two of his stars, Tywain McKee and Sergey Karasev, from traveling to Germany for the final Eurocup contest of the year.
The visitor’s American playmaker McKee brought the most pep at the beginning of the game, though his passing productivity (three assists) was offset by poor shooting. That proved the Lyubertsy club’s Achilles heel. Triumph tried to be creative on offense, but for a long time only succeeded with isolated pick-n-rolls. A parade of substitutions gave the team another option in outside shooter Tasamin Mitchell. It did not, unfortunately, fundamentally alter the shape of the game.
The army club played pragmatically, emphasizing the one-on-one ability of their individual stars. Sonny Weems excelled in this role. Thanks to their superior talent, the strategy worked for CSKA and they took a lead. The only hitch came at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second. The international trio of Vladimir Micov, Aaron Jackson, and Dionte Christmas struggled to find their shot. When they finally did, the home team’s scoring quickly returned to its former productivity.
To the visiting team’s credit, they didn’t wilt under the fire of the army team’s Americans. Triumph emphasized defense, looking to shut out CSKA on the offensive boards, while keeping the score close with a wide range of plays on offense. McKee finally woke up, too, to the delight of the Lyubertsy fans in attendance, knocking down shots from all over, one of which even tied the score at 30.
The first half concluded in favor of the army men, but they did not take much motivation from that fact, starting the second half flat. Milos Teodosic’s give-and-go’s failed, isolation king Sonny Weems picked up his third foul, and Dmitry Sokolov struggled in the post. The visiting team, recalling perhaps last year’s successes, ran several quick fast breaks and kept the game interesting.

Turning Point
The game did not remain interesting for long. The young Lyubertsy club held on until midway through the third quarter. Then their effective defense finally failed and in two plus minutes the Red-Blues threw in three 3-pointers to go with two fast-break dunks from Viktor Khryapa. The lead reached double-digits, breaking the resistance of Vasily Karasev’s club. The visitors simply stopped defending, their possessions hurried and chaotic – a sense of resignation evident in their actions. The final quarter passed quietly. The visitors could not catch up, while the hosts seemed content to maintain the status-quo.

Star of the Game

Viktor Khryapa. CSKA’s forward hands-down deserves this honor. Khryapa led his team in scoring, but, more importantly, ignited its decisive run in the third quarter. In just a few minutes, he scored seven of his team’s 13 points, effectively burying Lyubertsy’s hopes of a positive outcome. Ultimately, Viktor led the army men in four statistical categories: 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Injury
The army club suffered a loss in the first few minutes of the game. While battling for a rebound after his own miss, Alexander Kaun landed awkwardly and had to leave the court. Nenad Krstic and Dmitriy Sokolov got extra playing time as a result. If the Serb giant took advantage, scoring the second-most points on the team, the same cannot be said for the former Russian national team center, who scored only five points in 12 minutes.

Stat of the Game
29.6% - the field-goal percentage from Triumph’s leaders, McKee and Karasev (8-27). Despite winning the rebounding battle and committing fewer turnovers, too many missed field goals undid the Moscow Region club.

Quote
CSKA head coach Ettore Messina:
- The game demonstrated that we’re far from stability, which is needed when performing on a big stage. After an important win in Barcelona we didn’t have the necessary concentration, many players weren’t that impressive, which meant we had to risk playing our veterans, our starters more. Sasha Kaun’s injury was also disappointing. We don’t know how serious it is – our doctors will check him out later.

Top Performers
CSKA: Viktor Khryapa – 19 points, seven rebounds.
Triumph: Sergey Karasev – 19 points, seven rebounds.

Picture of the Game

                   

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