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Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow: Week of 10/24

October 31, 2011

Update: Andrei has been named Euroleague MVP for the month of October. The award is based on both team performance (CSKA was 2-0 in October) and individual stats. In the first two weeks, AK led Euroleague in rebounds (9.5 per game), blocks (2.5 per game), and efficiency ranking (30). He was also tied for fifth in assists (5.5 per game) while shooting 62.5% from the floor. AK will be presented with the award during an upcoming home game.

Andrei Kirilenko is dominating for CSKA Moscow.

And he’s dominating without dominating the ball, which makes for some pretty fantastic basketball.

It’s easy to discount my ravings about how incredibly he’s playing; I’m that big a fan. You only have to watch to see, though. CSKA is considered one of the most stacked teams in Europe, to the degree that they have national team players hardly getting any non-garbage minutes. When AK goes to the bench, however, it’s like the wind gets taken out of CSKA’s sail.

In CSKA’s Euroleague matchup of the week, they played Germany’s Brose Baskets.

Saw a bit of AK playing point forward in this one…and his entire arsenal of crazy ridiculous passes. Unlike with the Jazz, his passes weren’t half-thrilling, half-face palm; all of them were landing squarely in the hands of their intended recipients. Nenad Krstic, who was on the receiving end of many of them, was 9-9 from the floor. There was one possession where AK inbounded the ball, brought it down the floor, and then passed it in to Krstic under the basket from the baseline for an easy two. Just awesome.

The game was pretty much over when CSKA extended its lead to double digits in the second quarter while holding Brose to 5 points in the period. A minute into the second half, CKSA’s lead was at 20. Despite the runaway nature of the game, Brose Baskets isn’t a scrub team. They won their first Euroleague matchup against KK Zagreb by 31, and oh, they’re the current German pro ball champs.

AK’s line: 12 points on 4 shots, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 5 fouls drawn (8 FTAs) in 22:30. AK only played 6 minutes in the second half, and was subbed out for good with 4 minutes left in the third. Final score: 94-74.

CSKA’s Euroleague record: 2-0

Next up was CSKA’s first Russian Professional Basketball League game with AK (the season opener was the game before AK’s first game with CSKA) on Saturday against BC Triumph.

The other two leagues CSKA plays in are multinational leagues, so the jerseys are in English. PBL jerseys, meanwhile, are in Russian.

So if you’re keeping track at home (talking to myself here), AK is #15 (English) in Euroleague, #47 (English) in the VTB, and #47 (Russian) in the PBL. These teams must make a killing on jersey sales, though in seven games I haven’t yet seen CSKA wear white uniforms even at home. *shrug*

This one was a much closer game due to, it seemed to me, frequent CSKA lapses where they just seemed to lose all focus and played down to the level of competition (which of course reminded me of the Jazz). Might’ve had something to do with CSKA resting their starting point guard, Milos Teodosic, but there’s a marked difference in the way CSKA gets up for Euroleague games than non-Euroleague games.

CSKA was up 4 with 43 seconds left. A Triumph player went up for the shot, and AK comes swooping in and blocks the shot from behind, corrals the rebound, and draws his 9th foul of the game. He goes 1-2 from the line to put CSKA up five. In the final 30 seconds, we have CSKA players missing 3-4 FTs, a Triumph trey, and a CKSA steal and bucket.

This was CSKA’s 6th straight win, 73-68. AK: 12 points on 5 shots, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 9 fouls drawn, and a much-needed haircut.

After the game, the coach of Triumph, Valdemaras Homicius, said that the team had “specially trained to defend against Krstic and Kirilenko,” and he felt that the team succeeded in this…and also maybe something about it being a moral victory.

CSKA’s PBL record: 2-0; 1-0 since AK’s arrival.

P.S. This Triumph player: Best ‘stache ever.

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