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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Avtodor Beats CSKA 98-87, Grabs Regular-Season Title




Avtodor Saratov has accomplished what Olympiakos, Real Madrid and Barcelona failed to do.


The Volga-region team handed six-time Russian champion CSKA Moscow its first home loss of the season Thursday 98-87 to clinch the Russian regular-season title.


Following a tough Euroleague quarterfinal loss to Partizan in Belgrade on April 2, CSKA couldn't find its rhythm in the regular-season finale. Even though Avtodor could have lost by as many as 21 points and still win the league title, it left nothing to chance, leading from start to finish. And although the Muscovites made several runs, the outcome was never really in doubt.


Lithuanian center Gintaras Einikis led Saratov with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Andrei Maltsev added 22 points. A pair of guards, Gundars Vetra and Dmitry Shakulin, led the army team with 19 points apiece.


CSKA coach Stanislav Yeremin blamed the loss on mental fatigue.


"Our players were emotionally down after the big disappointment in Belgrade," he said. "Avtodor played better and smarter."


Valery Daineko's performance was especially disappointing. The power forward, who was the bread and butter man for CSKA all season, displayed little offense against Saratov, scoring a meager two points.


Avtodor, which also won the league title last year, has home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, which start next Thursday.


CSKA is seeded No. 2 in the eight-team tournament.


Still, Avtodor, which will likely join CSKA as the second Russian representative in the Euroleague next season, might not receive permission from the league to play its home matches in Saratov during the playoffs because the local arena has a small seating capacity and cannot accommodate television.


Flamboyant Avtodor boss Vladimir Rodionov has threatened to move his home games to the nearby town of Balakovo.