CSKA Rebounds to Take 2-1 Lead Over Avtodor

CSKA bounced back in the Russian basketball playoff final to take a 2-1 series lead over Avtodor with two victories over the weekend.

The Red Army club defeated the regular season champions 112-88 on Saturday, followed by a 90-76 victory Sunday.

"We showed them we could play good as a team," said Marcus Webb, CSKA's American center, who sparked both victories with thundering dunks and inspired play. "They're second."

Avtodor was in control for most of Sunday's game until a quick burst by the army club unraveled the top-rated team from Saratov. After playing catch-up for most of the second half, CSKA's Sergei Bazaravich and Webb broke the spell.

First, the Russian point guard nailed two free throws for a 70-68 CSKA lead before being fouled on a left-handed lay-in. After Bazaravich missed the free throw, Webb grabbed the offensive rebound, slam dunked the ball and was fouled for another 3-point play, which provided the knockout punch and ignited the home crowd.

Webb was also a powerful force in Saturday's win with a half dozen power dunks and 28 points.

"I had to play good," Webb said after Sunday's victory. "It's the fans' game. On Saturday, I had to score points, and today I played a more supporting role."

In Sunday's game, one of Avtodor's top players, Yintiras Ainikas, was sidelined with a high temperature. Bazaravich believes that was the reason his team trailed for most of the game.

"We played too relaxed," the former Atlanta Hawks guard said. "It would have been better if he had played. But when we started to play good, they just collapsed."

Avtodor's Zachara Pashutin led all scorers with 24 points Sunday, and Valery Daineko, who scored 44 points in CSKA's overtime opening championship loss to Avtodor, led CSKA with 20 points. Sergei Panov added 16 and Webb scored 14 for CSKA on Sunday.

Saturday's blowout victory for CSKA did not reflect the hard-fought battle for most of the game. After trailing 69-62, CSKA pulled ahead with a Webb slam for a 70-69 lead that eventually turned into a rout.

CSKA will next play Avtodor in Saratov this Friday in the best-of-five finals for the Russian basketball crown. If Avtodor wins, the deciding game will be played Saturday in Saratov.

"I think our chances are even now," said CSKA coach Stanislav Yeremin. "It's going to be a tough match."