Euroleague: Maccabi no match for CSKA in battle for Final 4

Tel Aviv was thoroughly outclassed by CSKA Moscow, losing 91-72 in the decisive game three of the quarterfinals series.

Maccabi TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
After reaching the Euroleague title game the last three seasons and the Final Four in seven of the last eight years, Maccabi Tel Aviv's Euroleague campaign came to an embarrassing and grinding halt at the quarterfinal stage Thursday night. Tel Aviv was thoroughly outclassed by CSKA Moscow, losing 91-72 in the decisive game three of the quarterfinals series. A 32-13 CSKA first quarter ended any dream Maccabi had of recording a second straight victory against the reigning European champion and proved that Maccabi's victory last Thursday was nothing more than a one off. Maccabi's pride propelled the side to a surprising 68-56 win in game two, however Maccabi's indifferent form throughout the season finally caught up with them in Moscow and assured that the better team was eventually the one to advance. The hosts had no intention of allowing Maccabi to dictate the play in the way it did in Tel Aviv and got off to a quick start. Oscar Torres' three-pointer after three minutes gave CSKA a 10-2 lead, with Maccabi in complete shock. Moscow was unstoppable, hitting shots from every point on the court, and Theo Papaloukas' three with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the quarter extended the hosts lead to 19 points (25-6). Another basket from beyond the arc by Smodis gave CSKA a 32-13 lead at quarter's end, with the Russians scoring an outstanding 12 of 16 from the field in the first 10 minutes. The hosts continued to increase their lead at the start of the second period and mounted the misery on the perennial Israeli champion. Two consecutive threes by Trajan Langdon gave his side a 43-16 advantage, but the Russians were still not done. Another triple by Langdon two-and-a-half minutes to the end of the half gave CSKA a 55-23 lead, its biggest of the game. Good shooting by Simas Jasaitis cut the margin slightly in the closing minutes of the half and Nikola Vujcic's buzzer beating basket sent the visitors into the interval down by 22 (59-37). The second half was pure "garbage-time", with Maccabi never managing to come anywhere near the hosts. After trailing by 23 points at the end of the third period (72-49) Goran Jeretin's three at the opening stages of the fourth quarter brought the visitors within 18 points (73-55). However, CSKA was always in full control and strolled through the remainder of the game, winning eventually by 21 points.