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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CSKA Beats Pau 2-1, Gains Final 4 Berth

CSKA Moscow made its way to the Final Four of the European Basketball Championships, beating Pau-Ortiz of France in the third and deciding game of their quarterfinal series 83-74.


Thursday's game in front of 5,000 fans in the jam-packed CSKA arena was a closer affair than two days earlier, when CSKA won 104-89.


After a 4-10 start in favor of Pau, the Russian champions ran off 9 straight points in less than three minutes in the middle of the first half and never trailed again. But the final outcome wasn't decided until CSKA forced several turnovers late in the game and went ahead 66-54, its biggest margin of the match.


Yevgeny Kisurin had 18 points for CSKA and Nigerian-born Julius Nwosu had one of his best games of the season, adding 16 points and 12 rebounds.


Nwosu was also the most visible man after the game, leading a jubilant post-match celebration with CSKA's fans.


"Since I came here last year, I knew that our goal was to make the Final Four," said Nwosu. "But now we don't want to stop there. If we play the way we're capable of, we could win it all."


Michel Gomez, the French coach, blamed the loss on bad defense by his club. Pau got a strong effort by Thierry Gadou, who led all scorers with 22.


While the final on-court destination for CSKA is clear -- the European Championship in Paris April 9-11 -- the financial future of the No. 1 club in Europe remains in doubt.


Since CSKA lost its major sponsor last October, the players have not received their full salaries. The exception is Nwosu, who has a guaranteed contract worth $200,000 per year.


On Wednesday, Alexander Gomelsky, the former CSKA and Soviet national coach, called for an emergency fund to help the team. "If millions of basketball fans in Russia would put up at least a dollar, that should save our best club," he said.


CSKA public relations man Yevgeny Tsyrlin noted that, while several Russian clubs in other sports have suffered humiliating international defeats recently, CSKA basketball remains the only bright spot for the country's fans.


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In Treviso, Italy, Dominique Wilkins pumped in 26 points Thursday night as he led Panathinaikos Athens to a close 65-64 victory against Benetton Treviso which qualified the Greek team for the Final Four, The Associated Press reported.


Panathinaikos, which trailed Benetton 33-36 at halftime, prevailed in the third quarterfinal game after the Italian team evened the series at one game each with a 83-69 victory Tuesday.


Wilkins scored decisive points in the final minutes of play to avoid an upset defeat for Panathinaikos against kos against the underdog Italian team.


About 5,000 fans watched the game at Benetton's home court.


Defending champion Real Madrid knocked off Panathinaikos' Greek rival Olympiakos with an 80-65 home court victory.


Real joins its main rival, Barcelona, which swept Turkish club Ulkur in two games to be the first team to qualify for the final tournament.