Despite missing two of its stars, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow put on a show of dominance to open the Euroleague Basketball China Tour on Wednesday, defeating Chinese Basketball Association champ Sichuan Blue Whales 49-92 in Chengdu. An estimated 15 million viewers watching live on Chinese national television saw EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo pace the winners with 18 points. CSKA was missing All-EuroLeague guard Milos Teodosic and 2016 EuroLeague Best Defender Kyle Hines, but nonetheless buried 9 of 16 three-pointers, pulled down 11 offensive rebounds, and saw all 12 of its players score by the end of the third quarter. Vitaly Fridzon and Nikita Kurbanov added 11 points apiece. Andrey Vorontsevich and Ivan Lazarev had 10 each. Xu Tao scored 14 points for Sichuan, Mike Harris had 13 points with 7 rebounds, while Liu Wei added 12 points in defeat.
CSKA assumed control early, led by De Colo, who dished assists and scored 6 points as the EuroLeague champs built a 9-20 lead midway through the opening quarter. Sichuan, led by Harris and Liu Wei, cut the margin to 15-23, but CSKA held on to lead 19-29 lead after 10 minutes. In the second quarter, Andrey Vorontsevich scored 5 points before a run capped by a pair of De Colo baskets opened a 24-43 lead. CSKA kept the lead high with Aaron Jackson raising the intensity and giving some spectacular assists for his big men. Among them, Ivan Lazarev was most productive, tallying 10 points on 5-for-5 two-point shooting as CSKA pulled away to a 27-49 halftime lead.
Sichuan started the third quarter well as Chen Chen and Harris, who had 7 consecutive points, cut the difference to 36-53. Through Vorontsevich, Jeff Ayers, Victor Khryapa and Nikita Kurbanov, soon CSKA restored its comfortable lead at 42-68 after three quarters. That margin grew as CSKA's defense allowed just 7 points in the fourth quarter. Fridzon and Kurbanov pushed CSKA past the 30-point barrier on the way to a big win.
The game also featured the first virtual reality coverage of a Euroleague Basketball game, with several courtside cameras giving fans a 360-degree experience thanks to a collaboration between HLBN, a Euroleague partner, and Whaley VR, China's number one virtual reality platform. Cameras on the benches and under the baskets were some points of view that fans could get through their virtual reality glasses.
CSKA finishes its visit to China with a game against Guangdong Tigers in Shenzhen on Friday.
Dimitris Itoudis, head coach, CSKA Moscow
"Let's talk about the game and in general our trip. It was obvious that we got into the game very seriously and we respect the game. We always respect the game. We respect what we are representing over here; we represent Euroleague Basketball. We're the champions of the EuroLeague, so we played seriously and it's one of our preseason games, so we went into the game very seriously to see what we can do. Obviously, the opposing team was not at that level right now, because they recently started their preseason. Regarding my team, we tried to share the time. Milos had some injury; that's why he didn’t play. The same for Kyle Hines. And unfortunately we had Cory Higgins injured during the game. It depends on the level of pain in his knee. If [Milos] feels pain tomorrow, I'm not going to dress him in the second game."
Nando De Colo, CSKA Moscow
"We tried to do some things tonight. We have new players coming to our team, so we tried to put them on the court. We tried to give some time to the young players. And this is good for the moment. The season will be long, so we need to count on every player. Like I said this morning, [Sichuan] has a little bit of an NBA game, you know, tries to play fast and shoot the ball quickly and it's totally different from what we do. So it was a good experience to play against them."