By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
CSKA Moscow hosted TD Systems Baskonia and the Russian side came out on top with an 89-86 win in Round 8 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
The Army Men were in the lead through three and a half quarters and Darrun Hilliard was the main reason.
Hilliard banked in career-high 31 points while shooting 5-6 for two and 7-10 for three. He also added two assists, one board, and one steal for a total PIR of 32 which is a career-high as well.
“I always got love for the people in Baskonia. They gave me an opportunity, my first opportunity in Europe. I will always be greatful to them. But we just wanted to come out and get a win. It has been a tough season so far and we have a new group, still, so we are kind of getting adjusted to one another. We just wanted to come out and get a win, that was everything I was trying to do. It wasn’t symbolic; it was just me going out there and trying to get a win. We needed one badly and I am glad we got it,” Hilliard said after the match.
Pierria Henry scored 17 points and went off in the fourth quarter for Baskonia to tie the game twice (82-82, 84-84) but Hillard was the one to decide the outcome with a dagger three-pointer for 87-84.
Daniel Hackett helped out with 16 points and it was a perfect moment for the two lefties to step up as CSKA couldn’t count on Mike James for this game as well as on Janis Strelnieks and Ivan Ukhov. Will Clyburn scored 12 including a very important basket in the final minute.
Tornike Shengelia logged 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the first game against his former team while the young 21-year-old Alexander Khomenko impressed with seven points during his ten-minute chance given by coach Dimitris Itoudis.
The coach wasn’t fully satisfied with Khomenko’s performance but sees a bright future ahead: “We were all wired, I would say, on what was the cause and I like that. Every adversity, in life or in sports, is an opportunity, so we took the adversities as an opportunity. I don’t agree that [Khomenko] was perfect. He is not perfect but he is getting there. The future belongs to him, for sure. I like that he is brave and that he is growing with such players as he is playing and practicing with, and he has zero fears. He is growing, that’s is a good thing, but he is not perfect, let’s be honest.”
For Baskonia, Youssoupha Fall scored 19 in addition to Luca Vildoza and Alec Peters’ 13 points each. Rokas Giedraitis had ten.
CSKA improved to 5-3 with this win while Bakonia now holds a 2-4 record.