Basketball-CSKA end Real's 31-game winning streak

Reuters

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Jan 23 (Reuters) - Six-time Euroleague champions CSKA Moscow snapped Real Madrid's 31-game winning streak in all competitions by beating the Spanish side 85-71 in an entertaining clash between two of the continent's heavyweights on Thursday.

The result left CSKA with a 3-1 record in Group F of Europe's premier club competition, level with eight-time winners Real and behind Maccabi Tel Aviv, who have four wins out of four after strolling to an 88-67 home victory over 1992 champions Partizan Belgrade.

Real, who won the semi-final and final of the curtain-raising Spanish Super Cup and have a 16-0 record in the Spanish league, won all 10 games in the Euroleague's preliminary group stage as well as their opening three in the Top 16, the second phase featuring two pools of eight teams.

But their remarkable run ended as CSKA, who suffered a shock 73-72 reverse at Partizan last week, raced into a 35-18 lead midway through the second quarter.

"CSKA were stronger than us physically and we did not have enough power to beat them," Real's Montenegrin-born forward Nikola Mirotic told the competition's website (www.euroleague.net).

"They ran away in the first half and we lacked energy although we closed the gap in the third quarter. We should not worry though, because it's our first loss of the season."

Real fought hard and reduced the deficit to single digits in the second half but were undone by a strong finish from CSKA whose Serbia centre Nenad Krstic led the home team with 18 points and six rebounds.

His compatriot Vladimir Micov and forward Andrey Vorontsevich added 14 each, while playmaker Sergio Rodriguez stood out for the visitors with a game-high 19 points.

"It was a great team effort and I am proud of my team who played hard and believed in what they were doing," CSKA's Italian coach Ettore Messina said.

"We defended well throughout the 40 minutes and were patient in offence, so overall I think we did everything we needed to win the game."

In the day's other top fixture, Fenerbahce Istanbul celebrated their first win in the second group stage with a 77-72 home success against Panathinaikos with 15 points from shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic and 13 apiece from forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Linas Kleiza. (Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; editing by Toby Davis)

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