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Zalgiris defeats CSKA for a third place in the EuroLeague season

Zalgiris Kaunas finished the 2017-18 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season in style by holding off a late CSKA Moscow surge to win the third place game 77-79 on Sunday at Stark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia.

Zalgiris led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, but CSKA dominated the fourth to get within 2 and set up a tight finish.

Vasilije Micic and Paulius Jankunas scored 15 points apiece to pace Zalgiris and Edgaras Ulanovas added 14. Othello Hunter and Misha Kulagin led CSKA with 14 points each and Cory Higgins netted 12 in defeat.

Pangos got Zalgiris going with a jumper, but back-to-back three-pointers by Higgins put CSKA in charge, 6-2. Jankunas stepped up with a driving layup only to see Hunter and Sergio Rodriguez boost their team’s lead to 11-4. Micic had a dunk and 4 free throws in a 0-8 run that put Zalgiris back in charge, 11-12. Victor Khryapa and Kulagin each struck from downtown and got help from Kyle Hines to establish a 19-16 CSKA lead. A layup by Aaron White and back-to-back baskets by Antanas Kavaliauskas gave Zalgiris a 19-22 edge after 10 minutes.

Hines took over with a coast-to-coast basket and Nando De Colo beat Micic’s layup with a triple to tie the game at 24-24. After a dunk by White, Jankunas improved on Sergio Rodriguez’s jumper with a three-pointer. Higgins and Micic joined the three-point shootout and Ulanovas scored in the low post, which prompted CSKA to stop the game at 29-34. Ulanovas followed a floater with a jump hook, but Hunter kept CSKA close. Milaknis nailed a triple to fix the halftime score at 35-41.

Jankunas shined with a put-back layup and Toupane followed an acrobatic basket with free throws for a double-digit Zalgiris lead. Brandon Davies capped a 0-11 run with a wild coast-to-coast basket and Jankunas erased Hunter’s free throws with a layup, good for a 37-51 Zalgiris margin. Ulanovas hit a triple and consecutive floaters by Pangos broke the game open at 37-60. Ulanovas hit free throws and Kavaliauskas added a layup, but Higgins and Rodriguez answered for CSKA. Ulanovas and Toupane kept Zalgiris fully in charge, 48-69, after 30 minutes.

Victor Rudd tried to ignite the CSKA comeback with back-to-back three-pointers, which caused Zalgiris to call timeout at 54-71. Rodriguez also struck from downtown and a jumper by Hunter brought CSKA a bit closer. Pangos rescued Zalgiris with a three-pointer, but Kulagin and Vitaly Fridzon brought CSKA within 73-78, with 1:19 left. Micic Split free throws and Kulagin struck again from downtown to make it 76-79 CSKA in the final minute. Kulagin split foul shots and CSKA got the ball back with 34.5 seconds to go, but turned the ball over on the inbound pass off a timeout, however Micic missed around the basket with 11.3 seconds left. CSKA missed its final two shots and Zalgiris celebrated its first victory at a Final Four since 1999.


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