CSKA Escapes St. Petersburg With Win

CSKA Moscow defeated Zenit St. Petersburg on the road, 86-82. Playing in front of a packed SIBUR Arena, Zenit and CSKA put on a show. Trailing by double digits in the 3rd quarter, Zenit stormed back and nearly pulled the upset. But CSKA was clutch down the stretch, escaping with a thrilling four-point win.

One of the biggest games of the weekend promised to be an exciting, up-tempo affair, with CSKA and Zenit boasting two of the league's top offenses. Zenit was also looking to get revenge for a 36-point defeat to CSKA in November.

The Battle on the Neva lived up to expectations. Zenit matched CSKA shot for shot, edging the Army Men out for a 23-22 lead to end the 1st quarter.

The Army Men were better on defense in the second period, limiting the hosts to nine points in the period. Nikita Kurbanov and Pavel Korobkov boosted CSKA's offense as the visitors led 39-32 at halftime. 

St. Petersburg did not wilt under the pressure. The defense forced CSKA into multiple turnovers and contested shots in the 3rd quarter. Ryan Toolson even gave Zenit the lead late in the 3rd quarter.

With a minute and a half to play in the game, Zenit remained on top by two, 77-75.

Turning Point
CSKA's backcourt duo of Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo took over in the final minutes. First, De Colo tied the game then Teodosic knocked down a '3' to put CSKA on top. On the following possession, De Colo drilled another '3' from downtown.

The 8-0 run crushed Zenit's hopes of an upset, allowing CSKA to win the regular-season thriller and maintain a firm grip on 1st place.

Star Player
Nando De Colo. CSKA's top sniper willed his team to victory, scoring 14 points in the decisive 4th quarter.

Stat of the Game
15 - number of lead changes. There were also 13 ties.

Zenit head coach Vasily Karasev:
- Overall, I'm satisfied with the game. The guys battled and gave themselves to the fight. We did what we wanted on defense: drop CSKA's field-goal percentage. We could have used a bigger rotation. When three leaders have four fouls, you can't go all-out on offense and defense. The entire game was decided in a minute late: one turnover and two 3-pointers.

CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
- We've had a lot of road games this month. We're always traveling. The players are tired. As for the game, both teams started well on offense, but not well enough on defense. During the 2nd quarter we only let Zenit score nine points, but in the 3rd quarter we gave them open shots and offensive rebounds. As for the end, I wouldn't like to be trading baskets with our opponent in every game, but this was good experience for us today.