On the heels of a disappointing 2010-11 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season, it took CSKA Moscow just two games to prove to everyone that the team is back on track to fight for its seventh continental title already this season. After two regular season games, CSKA leads the competition in assists, is second in scoring and performance index rating and has registered two clear wins over Zalgiris and Brose Baskets. One man who has everything to do with CSKA's early-season resurgence is power forward Andrei Kirilenko, who is Euroleague Basketball's choice as bwin MVP for October. Kirilenko returned to CSKA this season after a decade abroad and has made sure nobody has forgotten about his talent or intensity. Kirilenko delivered right away with a monster performance in the Euroleague's Opening Game in Kaunas by helping his team all over the court to earn Week 1 bwin MVP honors. Far from being satisfied, Kirilenko led CSKA to a convincing home win against Brose Baskets. The 30-year-old Kirilenko leads the 2011-12 Euroleague in performance index rating average (30), rebounding (9.5 rpg.) and blocks (2.5 bpg.) and is also tied for fifth place in assists (5.5 apg.). In other words, Andrei Kirilenko is the logical selection as bwin MVP for October!
The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its eighth season. Although statistics and performance 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 October was decided based on the two regular season games played during that month by all 24 teams. bwin, a Euroleague Basketball partner, 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.
The Euroleague Opening Game was a big test for CSKA and Kirilenko at the brand new Zalgirio Arena in basketball-crazy Lithuania. Far from being intimidated, Kirilenko downed the opening shot and had 8 points in the first quarter to put CSKA ahead for good and to help his team keep a safe margin throughout the second half. Kirilenko, who had led Russia to the bronze medal at EuroBasket 2011 in that very same arena, kept his and CSKA’s momentum going with an exhibition of dunks, intensity, blocked shots and rebounds in an outstanding all-around performance. He finished the game with an index of 37, the highest ever in a Euroleague Opening Game. His stats line says it all - 17 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 5 fouls drawn in leading CSKA to a 74-87 win. Back in Moscow a week later for Game 2, CSKA downed Brose Baskets 94-74 in front of its fans at Universal Sports Hall. Bamberg had been undefeated in all official 2011-12 games until that night. Kirilenko had all of his 12 points in a first half in which CSKA sealed the outcome, 47-30. Despite seeing limited playing time - 22 minutes - Kirilenko also had 4 rebounds, 6 assists and a block against Brose Baskets. Following those wins, CSKA is already moving in the right direction to turn this season into something special.
Kirilenko finished October having made 61.5% of his two-point shots and 2 of his 3 attempted three-pointers (66.7%), which adds more value to his outstanding numbers. To enjoy his team's great start together with the fans in Moscow, Kirilenko will receive his award at an upcoming CSKA Moscow home game.