Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow: 5/16-5/19 (PBL Finals)
Russian Professional Basketball League Championships: best of five series; 2-2-1 format.
CSKA was playing from behind out of the gate in Game 1, but AK converted a 4-point play on CSKA’s final possession of the first quarter to tie the game. AK played the entire first half and dominated, with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. CSKA led 35-32 at the break.
30 seconds into the second half, AK landed awkwardly on an opposing player and hopped off to the locker room. He didn’t return, but CSKA broke it open in the 4th on some hot shooting. Jamont Gordon in particular went nuts on the offensive end after getting into a mini-slapping (girl fight-esque) altercation with a Khimki player. Final score: CSKA 81, Khimki 62.
Game 2 was the next night, and AK was out. During the break between the first and second quarters, AK was called to center court and presented with the Alexander Gomelsky MVP Award. As far as I can tell, it’s an award presented by the “Soviet Sport” newspaper (so something like the “Sporting News” awards maybe?) based on a vote of experts and journalists.
Side note: Gomelsky was the most famous coach in Soviet/Russian basketball history and won national championships, European Championships, World Championships, Olympics gold, and is an inductee of both the Naismith and FIBA Halls of Fame. CSKA’s arena is named after him, and AK trained under him as a youth at his St. Petersburg sports school.
CSKA won Game 2 easily, 79-61, after holding Khimki to a 5-point first quarter.
The first four games of the series were a four-games-in-five-nights deal, and AK had said that he expected to return by Game 4. Unfortunately (for me), CSKA swept the series and it didn’t go to four games.
Before tip-off of Game 3, AK received yet another award, this time the PBL Offensive Player of the Year. Both AK and the Defensive Player of the Year, Khimki’s Zonaras Planinic, made the All-PBL first team.
Timofey Mozgov sighting at the game (he was a Khimki player before the NBA and played on Khimki during the lockout):
Game 3 was another not-close game, with Alexey Shved*, who started in place of AK, carrying CSKA. CSKA took it 90-75: Confetti, cutting down the net, medal and trophy ceremony, champagne and cigars in the locker room, and the whole shebang.
This was CKSA’s 10th consecutive Russian championship and 19th in 21 years, and with the conclusion of Game 3, CSKA’s 2011-2012 season came to a close.
*Shved reportedly entered the 2010 NBA draft knowing he wouldn’t get drafted so that he could have more of a say on where he ends up. A number of teams are expected to pursue him this summer, including OKC, Memphis and Minnesota. Haven’t seen the Jazz mentioned though. Shved is a 6’6″ guard that can play either guard position and has good ball-handling skills and shot 47% from downtown this year. His athleticism is also out of this world and he’s a highlight factory. Sound like someone we could use?