With offense still the major theme in Tel Aviv, the game for third place on Saturday night saw a dramatic comeback, as CSKA Moscow beat Montepaschi Siena 94-97 after coming back from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter. As such, CSKA avenged a loss in the same game last season. All-Euroleague guard Marcus Brown was unstoppable in the second half, finishing with 27 points, 15 in the third quarter, to lead CSKA's rally. Victor Alexander and Viktor Khryapa added 11 points each for the winners, who dominated the boards to the tune of a 39-24 rebounding advantage. Montepaschi put five players in double figures, led by David Vanterpool with 18 points. Marvis Thornton added 15 points, Vrbica Stefanov and Roberto Chiacig 14 each, and Dusan Vukcevic 11. The victory was CSKA's first in four games played during the last two Final Fours.
CSKA coach Dusan Ivkovic altered his starting lineup, inserting Dragan Tarlac and Viktor Khryrapa, but Montepaschi dominated the first quarter. Tarlac scored first for CSKA, but Giacomo Galanda countered with 2 triples and Stefanov made a layup to put Montepaschi ahead 8-4. Tarlac was the only CSKA player who scored in the opening 5 minutes, and the Italians proceeded to go on an 8-2 run in which Thornton and Vukcevic drilled back-to-back threes to extend the Siena lead to double digits, 16-6, after 7 minutes. CSKA made just 5 of 14 shots in the first period, and another three by Galanda helped Montepaschi to cruise to a 32-15 win after 10 minutes. The Italians made 6 of 7 shots from downtown in the first period. Montepaschi's scoring barrage continued the theme of offensive basketball that dominates in Tel Aviv. Its 32 first-quarter points were the most in any quarter of a Final Four game, breaking a record set in the semifinals by Maccabi.
Montepaschi took its biggest lead of the game, 19 points, when David Vanterpool scored on the first possession of the second quarter. CSKA cut the deficit down to 39-27, as Alexander and Theodoros Papaloukas combined for 7 points midway through the second. Both teams entered the foul bonus early, but Montepaschi kept firm control of the game. CSKA remained within striking distance thanks to Victor Alexander's points, but couldn't establish an offensive rhythm. Montepaschi got its lead back to 17 points at 47-30 with 3 minutes left in the quarter. Sergey Monya tried to wake CSKA up with a breakaway dunk, but the Italians got a boost from an active Roberto Chiacig, who scored 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting in the second quarter. A Mirsad Turkcan triple after another Alexander jumper pulled CSKA to within 51-38, but Siena countered with a Kakiouzis triple and Vanterpool layup before the break to extend its lead back to 56-40.
CSKA came back in the third quarter thanks to an athletic lineup, fastbreak baskets and an unstoppable Brown. CSKA started with a 2-6 opening run that made the score 58-46. Siena's first field goal didn't come until more than 3 minutes into the quarter when Vanterpool's jumper made it 60-46. CSKA's running game got started, however, as they pulled themselves back into the game. CSKA got fastbreak baskets by Khryapa, Monia and Tarlac and cut the lead down to 64-57 on a Khryapa triple with four minutes to play. Siena got 4 points from Andersen and a jumper from Vanterpool, but Brown worked himself into the game with drives to the basket and a specacular reverse dunk in traffic. He scored 12 points in the final 3 minutes of this period, while a turnaround layup by J.R. Holden brought the Army team within 73-71 entering the fourth.
Brown teamed with Aleksey Savrasenko to ignite CSKA's comeback at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Savrasenko scored 6 points and Brown's three-point play gave CSKA its first lead of the game, 80-81, with under 7 minutes to go. Montepaschi fired back with a 2-3 zone defense and Vanterpool went on a personal 5-0 run which put Siena back on top. CSKA failed to regain the lead for a while, as the ever-present Vanterpool added 2 free throws and found Mindaugas Zukauskas for a big three in a 12-4 run which gave Montepaschi a 92-85 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. It didn't last long, however, as CSKA fired back with a 0-7 run of his own in which Brown's free throws tied the game again at 92-92 with 1:11 to go. Stefanov drilled 2 from the line, but Anton Yudin did what he does best, and drilled his second triple in as many minutes to give CSKA a 94-95 lead with 30 seconds to go. Montepaschi missed 2 key shots, and Khryapa drew a foul with 3.2 seconds to go. He made both attempts, and Vanterpool lost the inbound pass, giving CSKA its first Final Four win after 3 consecutive losses.
Saturday, May 1, 2004