«Final four»: CSKA – champion!


The 1st season of VTB United League was completed today in Kaunas with the victory of CSKA. The Army Club overplayed another Russian club UNICS in the final game of the Final Four. Lithuanian «Zalgiris» won bronze medals.

The program of the second and final game day of «Final Four» in Kaunas was open with the fame for the third place between «Zalgiris» and «Khimki». The first quarter made us to doubt that the players of Russian club have enough motivation, they allowed their opponents to create a double difference in score. But the first impression was deceptive. Step by step the players from «Khimki» managed to come back to the team play and returned to the game. At the 23rd minute of the game the players of Sergio Scariolo made Head Coach of «Zalgiris» Ramunas Butautas to hurry up with time-out – the guests were leading 44:38.
The one-minute break helped the hosts – they managed to stop the offensive burst of Vice-Champions of Russia. Equal and tough fight followed after that and none wanted to be defeated. The main factor in this struggle was most probably the active support of around five thousand Lithuanian fans. Basketball players of «Zalgiris» owed their fans after the semifinal game and returned their debt. At the last quarter the host of the gym headed by Martinas Pocius (26 points) returned the initiative and gained the desired result. Victory with the score 78:72, «Zalgiris» won bronze medals.

- VTB United League is a serious tournament and it’s a great honor for «Zalgiris» to win the third place in the Tournament, taking into account also the fact that we won over such a strong Russian team like «Khimki» – Head Coach of the Club from Kaunas Ramunas Butautas said after the game. – And these games were very useful for our young players, who received the chance to get experience from recognized basketball masters.

And then we had the final game. CSKA against UNICS. The sympathy of the majority of the spectators in «Sporthalle» like the ceremony of the teams’ introduction showed belonged to the Team from Kazan. The noisy Kaunas fans joyfully welcomed three representatives of UNICS, who previously played for the local «Zalgiris» – players Saulius Stombergas and Marko Popovic and Head Coach Valdemaras Homicius and the Army Club was met with noise and whistle.
But CSKA didn’t have to get accustomed to the pressure of the public. And besides the natural ambition to become the winner of VTB United League the club had additional motivation: not long ago army players lost to the team from Kazan in the National Championship and didn’t want to forgive them.
The basketball players from UNICS managed to cope with he start impact showed by the team headed by Evgeny Pashutin. The rivals played equally up to the end of the second quarter. But then CSKA looked like it turned on the additional speed. The number of lucky attacks pus effective defense changed the game completely. At the 17th minute after the great shot of Alexander Kaun the advantage of army players became more that “+10”. And soon the 3-points score of John-Robert Holden sent the Kazan players into knock-down – 39:23.

To their honor Popovic and Co. didn’t resign with the defeat. In the second quarter of the game they made everything to revive the intrigue. And revived! 4 minutes before the end of the game UNICS reduced the difference in score up to 4 points – 55:59. And then Kazan layers got the chance to be even closer but… On the one hand UNICS didn’t have enough luck. And on the other hand the same luck was on the side of strongest. That evening CSKA was stronger, quicker, more aggressive. And the Club showed that at the last minutes of the game. Final whistle fixed the victory of CSKA – 66:55. CSKA is a triumphant of the first season of VTB United League!

- It’s a significant victory, the first title for the new team, - marked Head Coach of CSKA Evgeny Pashutin at the after-match press-conference. – We have a new concept, but the goals remain the same. And the responsibility is 2-times more. To win here is Kaunas was a matter of honor for us. This «Final Four» is a tournament of the highest level with the participation of 3 clubs from Euroleague and UNICS, who proved its high level by victory over «Zalgiris». We are grateful to Kaunas, Lithuania, fans that created phenomenal atmosphere. The emotions reminded us of the Euroleague «Final Four» and I’m sure that all the guys were happy to lay here.

The holiday of big basketball was ended in Kaunas with the great awarding ceremony, with the announcement of best players of «Final Four».

The symbol 5 players o the tournament that were defined by journalists were: small forward Martinas Pocius («Zalgiris»), power forward Machey Lampe (UNICS), center Anexander Kaun (CSKA), guard Vitaly Fridzon («Khimki») and playmaker Marko Popovic (UNICS). MVP (Most Valuable Player) of «Final Four» became the guard of CSKA John-Robert Holden.