CSKA Overcomes Valiant Tsmoki

CSKA defeated Tsmoki-Minsk on the road, 83-81. The Army Men got all they could handle in the Belarusian capital. Tsmoki hung tough in the first half, got hot from outside in the second half and very nearly pulled off the massive upset.

The Army Men traveled to Minsk without their starting backcourt of Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo. CSKA clearly missed De Colo's ability to get in the paint and Teodosic's silky passing in the first half. The visitors struggled against Tsmoki's defense and even fell behind late in the 2nd quarter. Despite closing the half on a 14-3 run, CSKA led by just eight at the break, 40-32.

The Dragons continued to surprise in the second half. After CSKA went up 13 (51-38), the Tsmoki trio of Branko Mirkovic, Justin Gray and Anthony Hilliard unloaded from outside (including four 3-pointers from Mirkovic). The Dragons scored 33 points in the 3rd quarter against one of Europe's top defensive teams to cut the deficit to one!

Tsmoki hung tough in the 4th quarter, trailing by five, 81-76, with a little over a minute to play.

Turning Point
Mirkovic pulled the Dragons within two, 81-79, thanks to a three-point play. At real risk of getting upset, Cory Higgins drew a foul on the other end and calmly converted two free throws to make it a two-possession game. Tsmoki had time, but Mirkovic committed a turnover (forced by Kyle Hines) and the Army Men hung on for a two-point victory.

Star Player
Andrey Vorontsevich. The Russian national team forward stepped up for CSKA, recording a team-high 16 points with only one miss from the field to go with six rebounds, four assists and a block.

Stat of the Game
13 - Minsk's biggest deficit during the 3rd quarter.

Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Igor Grishchuk:
- I want to thank my guys for their toughness. Unfortunately, I still don't know how serious Stutz's injury is. I especially want to single out Semenyuk, who did a great job jumping into the game.

CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
- Even though we've guaranteed 1st place in the regular season, we took a serious approach to the game in Minsk. I think we controlled the contest, but Tsmoki's eight 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter got the home team back into the game.