Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow: Week of 10/31
CSKA’s pre-game player intro montage:
Because AK wears two different numbers for the team, he comes up twice in the intros.
Prior to CSKA’s weekly Euroleague matchup against KK Zagreb, Zagreb forward Dario Šarić had this to say:
Of course, the Russian club – a favorite, but we will make every effort to provide decent resistance. I am honored to get to the floor with such a player like Andrei Kirilenko, whom I had previously seen only on television. (Sport Express)
Zagreb is, well, one of the weaker teams in Euroleague:
Zagreb won the tip, but AK immediately stole the ball. He played the entire first quarter and first two minutes of the second quarter. In these 12 minutes, he scored 12 points on 3 shots to go along with 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. When he subbed out, CSKA had doubled Zagreb’s point output, 27-13.
Side note: I’ve never been a fan of AK’s shot, but for some reason it doesn’t look as bad in Europe. Not just because of FIBA’s shorter three-point line; with long twos as well.
When AK subbed out of the game with 2:34 in the 3rd, it was pretty clear he was done for the night. At this point, CSKA still had twice as many points as Zagreb: 61-30.
Kirilenko’s final line: 14 points on 6 shots, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in 24:32. Final score: CSKA 89 – KK Zagreb 47.
Second game of the week was a VTB League game against Azovmash Mariupol. Azovmash has been the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague champions seven out of the last nine years, but around these parts probably gets more street cred as Kyrylo Fesenko’s first pro team.
It was 18-11 CSKA after one, and 41-23 after two. AK checked in in the 2nd quarter with 4:30 remaining and had a hand in 9 of the 11 points scored before halftime. The first points scored of the second half put CSKA’s lead at 20, and garbage time commenced shortly thereafter. AK wasn’t seen again after halftime.* Final score: CSKA 72 – Azovmash 45…and that was with CSKA going 0-5 in the final 4:30. AK’s line: 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 12:36.
*Except for after the game, when he greeted and took pictures with 50 kids from a Moscow orphanage sponsored by the Kirilenko’s Kids Foundation. Masha also recently said that the foundation is setting up scholarship funds for all of the children of the Russian hockey players that were killed in a plane crash in September.
So CSKA has now won 8 in a row by an average margin of 18 points, and only one of the 8 had a single-digit point differential. It’s played some good teams over this stretch, but its next game (Euroleague) against Panathinaikos–Greek Basket League champs 13 of the the last 14 years–could be considered its first real test.