The Turkish Airlines Euroleague's longest unbeaten run in almost a decade belongs to everyone at CSKA Moscow, but during the first month of 2015, the biggest fingerprints on that streak were left by the team's newest star, Nando De Colo, Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for January. A 27-year-old combo guard who arrived injured to his new club this summer, De Colo has not missed a beat since debuting for CSKA in the third game of the regular season. But in January, De Colo outdid himself. In the span of five games, he matched or set 11 of his own Euroleague career highs and ranked among the 10 best Top 16 players in 11 different statistics. In the fourth game of the month, he scored the most points ever without a missed shot, 28, by a Euroleague player. At month's end, however, the most important statistic was the 5-0 record that extended CSKA's season-long streak to 15 wins without a defeat. With the team's top regular-season scorer, Sonny Weems, out for the last three of those victories, De Colo's surge couldn't have been timed better, capping a memorable, month-long performance that made De Colo the bwin MVP for January.
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its 11th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for January was based on the five Top 16 games that all teams played between December 30 and January 30. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin is the sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does bwin's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.
To start the Top 16, CSKA visited Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, which was on its own six-game winning streak at the time. Their showdown - the first in the Euroleague between former coaching partners Zeljko Obradovic of Fenerbahce and Dimitris Itoudis of CSKA - more than lived up to its billing, as both teams fought into overtime. There, De Colo proved decisive with insurance free throws and a victory-clinching steal in the final seconds. CSKA won 81-84 and De Colo contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds, including 4 in overtime, to the cause. Next, CSKA defeated visiting Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 99-90 as De Colo put up 17 points and dished his Euroleague career-high of 8 assists. Back to Istanbul in Round 3 to face Anadolu Efes, which had won its first two Top 16 games, De Colo made the difference in a 69-78 victory with 22 points and 7 rebounds. His 4 steals and performance index rating of 34 in that game were both career highs for him. Back in Moscow the following week, CSKA fans witnessed the single most efficient offensive performances in Euroleague history as De Colo scored a career-high 28 points without missing any shots in the team's 101-74 blowout of Unicaja Malaga. De Colo made 7 of 7 two-pointers, 4 of 4 three-pointers and 2 of 2 free throws for the highest-scoring perfect shooting night by a Euroleague player ever. Just as it had started January, CSKA ended the month with an overtime challenge, but outlasted Nizhny Novgorod 103-95 as De Colo contributed 13 points and yet another career-high of 8 rebounds.
Among his leading statistics in the Top 16 so far, De Colo finished January ranking first in fouls drawn (31), free throws attempts (31) and free throws made (29); second in steals (10) and index rating (122); third in points (90); and sixth in free throw percentage (93.5%). Just as it was the sole unbeaten regular season team, CSKA is now the only perfect one in the Top 16 so far, two victories away from matching the Euroleague record of 17 in a row that the club has owned since the 2004-05 season. De Colo will be honored for his part in keeping that streak alive when he receives the bwin MVP award for January at an upcoming CSKA home game.