Road to Milan: CSKA Moscow

May 05, 2014 by Euroleague.net Print
Road to Milan: CSKA Moscow
CSKA Moscow, Road to Milan
When it comes to consistent excellence in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this century, one name leads the list: CSKA Moscow. A perennial Euroleague favorite, CSKA used another phenomenal season to return to the Final Four for the 11th time in the last 12 years, a record of consistency unmatched in the history of Europe's signature basketball event. But any impression that the Final Four would not be the same without CSKA's presence belies the great work this club does to meet its own high expectations, again and again.

CSKA's status as a title threat was only enhanced by its preseason victory over Minnesota of the NBA and an overtime loss to San Antonio in the 2013 Euroleague Basketball US Tour. Two defeats in its first four Euroleague regular season games may have raised doubts, but by the Top 16, CSKA had truly hit its stride. Its always-solid defense was complemented fully by a well-oiled offense as CSKA broke the Euroleague record for average assists in the Top 16. It was also the best three-point shooting team in that phase, and ranked second in both scoring and performance index rating. CSKA finished the Top 16 with 10 wins in its last 11 games to claim first place in its group and home-court advantage in the playoffs against another six-time champion, Panathinaikos Athens.

The series opener between the two Euroleague giants was an instant classic. With CSKA behind, Sonny Weems took over late in the fourth quarter to push the game into overtime, where CSKA's defense dominated for a 77-74 win. That effort carried over into Game 2, where CSKA came up with a true defensive gem, limiting Panathinaikos to just 51 points in a blow-out victory. Panathinaikos won a defensive battle in Game 3 and tied the series by taking a 73-72 overtime thriller in Game 4. Once back in Moscow for a do-or-die Game 5, however, CSKA ruled behind Sasha Kaun, handing Panathinaikos the worst defeat in club history, 77-44, and securing a ticket to Milan.

After Victor Khryapa led the playoffs in both rebounds and assists, while Milos Teodosic returned from injury in the playoff series finale, CSKA comes to Milan with its sights set high once again. Relying on its unprecedented Final Four experience, CSKA's goal is singular: to take sole possession of second place on the list of all-time Euroleague winners with its seventh continental title.
2013-14 KEY MOMENTS
Sonny Weems - CSKA Moscow - EB13_56971
  • In a battle of Turkish Airlines Euroleague heavyweights, CSKA downed FC Barcelona 79-65 at home late in the regular season. Sonny Weems paced the winners with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • CSKA handed Real Madrid its first loss of the season, stopping its 13-game winning streak. CSKA topped Madrid 85-71 with 18 points and 6 rebounds from Nenad Krstic, who would be chosen as bwin MVP for January.
  • CSKA won its Top 16 group by downing Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 76-81 on the road. Aaron Jackson started for injured Milos Teodosic and took over with 18 points. Sonny Weems added 14 and Sasha Kaun 12.
  • Down by 5 with 3 minutes left in its playoffs opener against Panathinaikos Athens, CSKA managed to force overtime and cruise to a 77-74 home win. Sonny Weems shined with 21 points, most of them in crunch time.
  • CSKA earned a spot in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four for the 11th time in 12 seasons by downing Panathinaikos Athens 74-44. Big man Sasha Kaun led the way with 18 points and 9 rebounds.