CSKA a tough rival for Lukoil, loses in the last five minutes


CSKA a tough rival for Lukoil, loses in the last five minutes
Lukoil with another victory (gong.bg)
29-02-2008 20:23

CSKA lost its home game against Lukoil with 82-94. But, despite having only one and “a half” of their three American players against the super favourite, CSKA received well-deserved admirations by their fans as well as by the impartial spectators by making the game as hard as possible for the champions and maintaining the intrigue almost until its end. Mike Henderson’s injury put him out of the court for the rest of the season while Lavell Payne’s called in question his participation in the game. This, however, didn’t stop their team from giving a great performance and threatening Lukoil’s 25th win in a row. They, on the other hand, showed that they need to play seriously enough just for five minute to win a game from the national championship.
 
Lukoil started rather casually allowing CSKA to lead 7-0, before they scored their first basket (a three-pointer by Riste Stefanov). For CSKA Hristo Nikolov had an impressive start with a slam and a three-pointer and Georgi Davidov with three baskets in the starting four minutes. The team even managed to keep an eleven-point lead for more than a minute against Lukoil, something not many Bulgarian will be able to say they've achieved this season. Pero Antic, on the other hand, was still the well known scoring machine (8 points in the first quarter) and with the offensive contribution of their other tall player, Nenad Canak, the champions were able to reduce CSKA’s lead to 5 points at the end of the first quarter (20-15).
 
At the start of the second quarter CSKA were still leading, but after 12 minutes of play Lukoil finally tied the score 22-22 and after that took the lead 26-28. Then the injured Lavell Payne appeared for CSKA but no substitutions from Rosen Barchovski could change the inevitable ending from this moment on. At 28-31 a foul plus a technical violation were called against Ludmil Hadjisotirov. Larry O’Bannon was perfect from the free-throw line and, after a field goal by Antic and the first of two three-pointers made by Riste Stefanov, the guests were already ahead by 12 points - a 9-0 streak by them in less than a minute. The second-three pointer by Stefanov gave his team a lead of 14 points (31-45), but then CSKA answered with some good offensive plays by Josh Washington and Sergey Tsvetkov.  At the end of the second quarter Pero Antic decided to follow Hadjisotirov’s example and after a personal foul against him was also whistled for a technical. That allowed CSKA to get back into the game and they were trailing by only 2 points at the half (43-45).
 
At the beginning of the second half Krum Doychinov scored for a tie and from this moment on the game went point for point, disappointingly for Lukoil. The only exception was a brief moment when Lukoil were leading by 7 points (48-55) but that was quickly compensated by their opponents and the third quarter finished with only a 3-point lead (66-69).
 
The last quarter started with the same repeating scenario and, inspired by the efforts of the injured Lavell Payne, CSKA continued to fight on. That lasted until 5 minutes before the end of the game, when Zeljko Lukaic’s players decided to finally show their real class and Lukoil made an 11-0 run in three minutes (75-90). The final score was 82-94.
 
For CSKA Lavell Payne scored 16 points and gathered 6 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Josh Washington added 21 but the star was Hristo Nikolov, who made a unique game with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists (only 2 points short of a triple-double). For Lukoil Antic made his routine double-double, scoring 28 points and collecting 11 rebounds, while Canak and Stefanov added 18 and 17 points respectively for their team’s success.  

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