Tue, May 02, 2006 - Page 20 News List

CSKA Moscow wins Euroleague title

AP , PRAGUE

CSKA Moscow's John Robert Holden, left, Theodoras Papaloukas, center, and coach Ettore Messina celebrate in the dressing room after CSKA won the Euroleague title by defeating Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv 73-69 in Prague on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Trajan Langdon hit two free throws with 5.8 seconds remaining to lift CSKA Moscow to a 73-69 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday and give the Russian club its first Euroleague championship in 35 years.

Langdon, who finished with 11 points, sealed the victory and enabled CSKA to capture its fifth championship after losing in the semifinals in each of the past three years.

"We played with our heart and our soul tonight," said CSKA's Theodoros Papaloukas, who led his team with 18 points and seven assists and was selected the Final Four's most valuable player. "I had lost three Final Fours before this, but I won't remember them. We did it and we deserved it."

Having also won the title in 1961, 1963, 1969 and 1971, CSKA equaled Maccabi and Italian club Varese with its fifth crown, three fewer than all-time leader Real Madrid.

Tel Aviv was trying to become the third team in Euroleague history to win three straight titles, following Yugoslav club Split (1989-1991) and ASK Riga from the Soviet Union (1958-1960).

CSKA's defense limited Maccabi's Anthony Parker and Nikola Vujcic to a combined 14 points, and caused 20 turnovers.

On Saturday, Parker and Vujcic were selected to the Euroleague's honorary First Team and Parker was chosen as the season's Most Valuable Player.

"They slowed us down, made every shot tough for us and they played great down the stretch," Parker said. "It's a disappointment to come up one game short like this. Everyone wants to win it all when you get to this point."

The Sazka Arena in the Czech capital was dominated by a sea of yellow as the Maccabi fans dominated the crowd of 20,000.

The victory gave CSKA coach Ettore Messina his third Euroleague title in his first season in Russia, adding to the crowns he won with Italy's Kinder Bologna in 1998 and 2001.

"It had been 35 years since our club CSKA won this title. We played smart and that led us to the title against a great Maccabi," Messina said.

Maccabi coach Pini Gershon was trying to become the second coach to win three straight Euroleague crowns and match Riga's Aleksandar Gomelski.

Earlier Sunday, Tau Ceramica captured third place in the Final Four by beating Winterthur FC Barcelona 87-82.

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