Photo Gallery: Montepaschi vs CSKA

Turkcan vs Alexander (photo G.Philippov)
Montepaschi (Italy) vs CSKA: 78-79

The third-place game is otherwise called the consolation final. Thats not exactly fair. Even a win in such a game offers only relative consolation. To be one step away from the top and miss it by three shots (the total of six points that the Army team lost by in two games is only three mid-range shots). What could be harsher? And what could be of consolation?

CSKA players, staff and fans probably feel the same as a scientist who works an entire year on a revolutionary invention. Then the decisive experiment, which was preceded by countless other experiments, on which people worked 365 days per year, didnt produce the desired result. Or more to the point, the result that everyone counted on deep within their souls. The experiment in CSKAs case - advancing to the Final Four - isnt only possible, but also necessary to repeat. The most important thing is to believe in the team and hold on for another year.

Of the three officials working the consolation game, one of them was quite familiar with the reaction of the Russian players at what they considered unfair officiating. It was Milivoj Jovcic who three years ago was the victim of Ruslan Avleyev. In November 2000, the Russian national team forward punched the referee after becoming upset at the officiating in a game between UNICS and Beshiktash. Maybe he remembered the incident, or maybe for some other reasion, the officiation was as neutral as the floor of Barcelonas Palau Sant Jordi for Montepaschi and CSKA.

After winning the opening tip, it seemed that the CSKA hadnt forgotten about the loss two days ago to Barcelona, as center Victor Alexander immediately committed a turnover. The Italians were a little more relaxed. Having made it to the Final Four, they had already accomplished their seasons goal.

Montepaschi was led on offens by Alphonso Ford, who scored 11 points in the first period. The American legionnaire also opened up the scoring, giving the Italians a 2-0 lead to start the game. CSKA then took a cue from their counterparts and began playing loose basketball, sinking a barrage of 3-pointers, not exactly characteristic for a Dusan Ivkovic team. Nonetheless, there were eight lead changes in 10 minutes, and CSKA was able to control the tempo of the game. When Montepasci went on an 8-point run to lead 15-10, J.R. Holden nailed two straight 3-pointers to restore the status quo. The first quarter ended with CSKA leading 27-26.

The second quarter was just as high-scoring. The teams exchanged long-distance bombs, not allowing the defense a chance to get close. The teams were playing not as if it were a game for third place, but rather an all-star game. Ivkovic experimented with his lineup, butting four forwards on the floor at one time: Sergey Panov, Viktor Khryapa, Darius Songaila and Sergey Monya! And Holden directed the team. Khryapa gave the Spanish fans a funny show, accidentally tipping the ball in for Montepaschi to put the Italians up 51-49. The experimental lineup lost its miniduel 9-4. Thanks to that, Montepaschi went into halftime with the lead.

The CSKA head coach continued to experiment in the third quarter. For the first time in this Final Four, CSKA center Alexei Savrasenko took the floor, joining Holden, Monya, Hatzivrettas and Panov. The latter, unfortunately, had a poor showing: two turnovers, a missed shot and a foul. The veterans performance didnt help out the others on the team. CSKA didnt score for four minutes. But during that stretch, CSKA played tough defense, thus only allowing their opponents to go up only 56-51 with six minutes remaining in the quarter. The Moscow team eventually took the lead 61-60 on a 3-pointer by Sergey Monya, but Siena guard Vrbitsa Stefanov stripped Alexander and hit a 3-pointer for a 63-61 Siena lead going into the fourth quarter.

Over the course of the game, Montepaschi didnt surprise CSKA in any way. But Sienas Turkish coach Ergin Ataman tried to make up for that in the final two minutes. With the score 77-74 in favor of CSKA, the Italians took a timeout, after which they went into a zone defense. The Army team doesnt like to play against the zone, and they didnt have enough time to put together an attack. While CSKA contemplated, Montepaschi evened the score at 77-77. But it wasnt easy for the Italians to go ahead. With 17 seconds left in the game, center Roberto Chiacig proved his reputation and missed two free throws. But Alphonso Ford, who gave CSKA problems at the beginning of the game, managed to nab the rebound over Khryapa and put the ball back in for a 79-77 lead. There were less than 15 seconds for CSKA to save the game. CSKA got lucky one more time when Ford unexpectedly fouled Hatzivrettas with four seconds remaining Of course, the best possible conditions were created for the Greek scorer to make the free throws. Regardless of the danger of overtime, Dusan Ivkovic used his third time out in the second half, taking away the possibility of talking to his club should the game go into overtime. He also gave Hatzivrettas a chance to take a breath and calm his nerves. It seemed to help. The Greek confidently hit the first free throw - 79-78. Before the second, Nikos bounced the ball, the crowd went quietshotand missed

Montepaschi took third place in the 2002-2003 Euroleague, and CSKA took fourth.
Viktor Khryapa (photo G.Philippov)
Alexander Bashminov (photo G.Philippov)
Chatzivrettas (photo G.Philippov)
Songaila vs Turkcan
Jon Robert Holden ( ., )
Dusan Ivkovic
Sergey Monya(photo G.Philippov)
Aleander vs Turkcan (photo G.Philippov)
Theodoros Papaloukas (photo G.Philippov)
A. Savrasenko vs R. Chiacig (photo G.Philippov)