Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow: Week of 3/19 (Euroleague Quarterfinals)
Andrei Kirilenko: Third player in Euroleague history to win the weekly MVP award three times in one season, and first to do so since ’06-’07.
Against Bilbao in Moscow in Game 1 of the Quarterfinals, CSKA got off to a 15-7 start but followed that up by giving up a 13-2 run.
Although the other four starters were subbed out after the first quarter, CSKA Coach Jonas Kazlauskas kept AK in the game until 5:27 to halftime. At 5:27, AK got hit in the face while tipping the ball in and fell to the floor.
The hit looked pretty ugly, and he had to be walked off the court by a teammate and trainer (as I screamed, “Oh, no!!” and memories of Memo in Denver played in my head).
However, AK returned to the floor 100 seconds later, and right away scored off a dunk. He played the rest of the half, at which point CSKA led by ten, 50-40.
During introductions, Masha was in her second-row seat taking pictures of AK. For whatever reason, she busted out a Scream mask in the third quarter. Asked about it after the game, AK said he didn’t know why she did it either lol.
CSKA came to play in the second half with the intent of putting Bilbao away, and put Bilbao away they did. They opened the second half with a 18-4 run en route to a 34-11 third quarter, and AK came out of the game for good at 2:30 in the third.
Final score: CSKA 98, Bilbao 71 (the crowd got restless in the end wanting to see CSKA break 100). AK’s line: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 26 minutes.
There’s our former boy and AK’s former Jazz teammate, Raul Lopez. Yeah, he looked *just a little* better when he was with the Jazz.
Black eye from the hit in Game 1:
In Game 2, Bilbao was called for three team fouls in the first minute. Before two minutes were out, things had gotten chippy and players were having to be separated. Within 5 minutes, CSKA had taken over the game on a barrage of three-pointers.
The second quarter saw CSKA losing focus and being outscored 15-21. Nevertheless, it took a five-point lead into halftime.
The third quarter was close (or I should say CSKA was unable to pull away), but in the fourth CSKA broke it open with, wouldn’t you know it, team basketball, team defense, sharing the ball, and ball movement. Although he missed both of his FG attempts, AK was huge in the fourth, collecting four boards, drawing four fouls, and hitting 4-6 free throws.
CSKA won 79-60 on the back of AK’s 20 points (4-6 on 2s; bleh 1-5 from downtown; 9-12 FTs), 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 9 fouls drawn. His efficiency rating of 31 was the highest of the week, garnering him (as mentioned at the top of this post) his third MVP of the season.
The Final 4, which will start on May 11, will be single-game elimination and held in Istanbul. In other words, CSKA will have played its final home game in the Euroleague this season if it wins either one of next week’s games in Bilbao.