CSKA Moscow will look to wrap up its place in the Quarterfinal Playoffs and potentially the top spot in Group H when it hosts Fenerbahce Ulker on Wednesday night in the Russian capital. The champs enter the game 3-1 in the group and are coming off a superb performance against Montepaschi, in which the trio of JR Holden, Matjaz Smodis and Erazem Lorbek lifted the club to its third blowout win in its last four games. The first of those came in Istanbul against Fenerbahce, as CSKA’s tough defense and always-efficient attack produced a 48-66 win. Fener meanwhile is coming off a disappointing 64-86 home loss against Cibona that dropped its record to 1-3. Head coach Bogdan Tanjevic’s team will see its already small playoff hopes vanish unless it comes up with a road win against the team that is has a 4-17 all-time record against. The game features a visit to Moscow for two of CSKA’s former stars, rebounding king Mirsad Turkcan, who was the 2001-02 Euroleague Regular Season MVP and a member of the 2003-04 All-Euroleague first team in his two season at the club, and Gordan Giricek, who led CSKA in scoring alongside Turkcan in 2001-02. But head coach Ettore Messina won’t give them a break. CSKA’s defense will be prepared for everything as it looks to march back to another Final Four. Fenerbahce’s deep frontcourt will be faced with the daunting task of stopping CSKA’s big men, led by the red-hot Lorbek, Smodis, All-Euroleague big man Terence Morris and forward Viktor Khryapa. Fener will counter with Oguz Savas and Semih Erden in the pivot and Turkcan, Gasper Vidmar and even Emir Preldzic at power forward. Giricek will be thrust into the spotlight as he teams up with Devin Smith to try and slow CSKA’s star wingmen, Euroleague MVP Ramunas Siskauskas and Trajan Langdon. In the backcourt, CSKA turns to Holden, Zoran Planinic and Nikos Zisis to face Marques Green, Omer Onan and Damir Mrsic Kaan. CSKA is the clear favorite when you consider its recent form, its last game against Fener and the fact that it is at home. Nevertheless, with a visiting team that features stars like Turkcan and Giricek plus a cast of young talents, there is always the possibility of a superb effort that could catch CSKA off guard and shake things up considerably in Group H.
- CSKA has won 11 in a row against Fenerbahce Ulker.
- J.R. Holden is coming off one of the best performances of his Euroleague career. Holden recorded 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in a win over Montepaschi Siena last week and marked the first time he had scored at least 10 points and produced more than 5 rebounds and 5 assists in his 171-game Euroleague career.
- Team captain Matjaz Smodis scored a season-high 22 points in last week’s victory over Montepaschi.
- Big man Erazem Lorbek recorded his first double-double of the season and third of his Euroleague career with 14 points and 12 rebounds in last week’s victory over Montepaschi.
- Smodis and Lorbek were teammates of Fenerbahce Ulker big man Gasper Vidmar on the Slovenian national team.
- All-Euroleague big man Terence Morris picked up his only double-double of the season – 12 points and 10 rebounds – in his last meeting with Fenerbahce Ulker in the Top 16 opener in January.
- Playmaker Marques Green has recorded a steal in all 14 games in which he has appeared this season. He is ranked second this season with 2.2 steals per game.
- Forward Mirsad Turkcan has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.
- Turkcan is 30 points away from reaching Milos Vujanic for 20th place on the Euroleague Basketball career scoring list. He enters this week game against CSKA Moscow with 1,381 points.
- Guard Omer Onan is just 2 steals shy of reaching 100 for Euroleague Basketball career.
- Center Semih Erden recorded a Euroleague career-high 11 rebounds in the Top 16 opener against CSKA in January.
- Shooting guard Gordan Giricek played for this week’s opponent, CSKA, during the 2001-02 season, during which he averaged 22.9 points per game and was among the Euroleague’s top scorers.
- Turkcan played for CSKA during two different seasons. He was teammate of Giricek’s in the 2001-02 season, when he was named the Euroleague regular season MVP and led the Euroleague in rebounding. He rejoined the club for the 2003-04 season, when he was named to the All-Euroleague First Team, helped CSKA reach the Euroleague Final Four and win the Russian League. J.R. Holden and Viktor Khryapa are the only current CSKA players to have been teammates of Turkcan’s.