Pre-draw profile: CSKA Moscow

Dec 27, 2011 by Print
Nenad Krstic - CSKA Moscow
Nenad Krstic
CSKA MoscowAfter an uncharacteristic Turkish Airlines Euroleague season, Russian champion CSKA Moscow is back and reasserting its dominance at the continental level. A rash of injuries and some coaching changes prevented CSKA from playing at the level it has become accustomed to and the team that had reached a record eight straight Euroleague Final Fours failed to advance past the regular season. But CSKA regrouped under coaching great Jonas Kazlauskas to win the Russian League for the ninth season in a row - and enters the Top 16 as the Group B champion. Those streaks and CSKA’s totals of 42 league titles and six Euroleague crowns – tied for the second-most in competition history – demonstrate the impact CSKA has had on Russian and European basketball as one of the sport’s true powers. The club’s greatness goes back many years. CSKA was the dominant force in the Soviet League, where it racked up 25 titles between 1945 and 1990 thanks to legendary players that wore its colors over the years such as Sergei Belov, Vladimir Tkachenko, Gennadiy Volnov, Vladimir Andreev, Anatoli Myshkin and Sergei Tarakanov in addition to head coach Alexander Gomelskiy. CSKA and Real Madrid dominated the European Cup in the 1960s and the team stayed competitive in the 1970s and the mid-1980s. CSKA won its first Euroleague title in 1961 and lifted the trophy again in 1963, 1969 and 1971. The birth of the Russian League gave CSKA a new arena to dominate and it proceeded to win nine consecutive crowns between 1992 and 2000. CSKA returned to the European elite by reaching the Euroleague Final Four in 1996 and the SuproLeague Final Four in 2001 behind a young Andrei Kirilenko. Coach Dusan Ivkovic led CSKA to three consecutive Final Fours between 2003 and 2005, as the club became once again the dominant force in Russian basketball. Players like Theodoros Papaloukas, J.R. Holden, David Andersen and Marcus Brown were among those expected to lift CSKA to glory in the 2004-05 season, but despite an incredible 60-4 record in all competitions, CSKA did not win the Euroleague title. That summer, coach Ettore Messina arrived and CSKA reloaded its roster with Matjaz Smodis, Trajan Langdon and David Vanterpool joining Papaloukas and his crew. Massive success followed as CSKA downed two-time defending champion Maccabi in Prague for its first continental crown in 35 years. CSKA made it back to the title game in 2007 and then celebrated its sixth Euroleague championship by again beating Maccabi in 2008. CSKA had a chance to repeat in 2009 after it rallied from 23 down to earn a chance to win at the buzzer, but Ramunas Siskauskas missed from downtown. Messina left that summer, however players like Viktor Khryapa and Sasha Kaun stepped up to lead CSKA to another Final Four appearance and to Russian League and Russian Cup trophies. Last season the run came to an end in the Euroleague, but the team regrouped and celebrated another Russian League crown in the end. Few doubted that CSKA would bounce back this season, but the team delivered right away to win its regular season group in style. For the first time in its eight-year history, the Euroleague Basketball's monthly award went to the same team twice in a row as Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic won it in October and November, respectively. CSKA has only one goal - challenging for every title available, with the Euroleague trophy on top of its ambitious list.