The taste of revenge was in the air as CSKA Moscow hosted Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Friday night, with the Russian side eager to exert its authority after suffering a shock loss in Montenegro earlier in the season.
CSKA isn’t used to losing many games at all, and certainly not against teams from the lower reaches of the standings such as Buducnost, so there was plenty of motivation for Dimitris Itoudis and his players in this week’s rematch.
It’s fair to say a point was proved. CSKA turned on the style at both ends of the court, coming within 1 point of triple figures whilst also severely restricting the visiting team’s offense with a thumping 99-69 home victory.
The star performer was Nando De Colo, whose 26 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists were good for a career-best performance index rating of 38. And the scoring star later admitted that his teammates were planning to right some wrongs following that defeat in Podgorica, saying: “For sure [there was some revenge]. In the first game we got surprised [by Buducnost] and we knew tonight we had to play against a good team.”
Along with De Colo, the player who did more than anyone else to inspire the victory – and set the record straight – was Daniel Hackett. The Italian guard was restricted to just two points in the game won by Buducnost in November, but had much more impact this time around: he scored 17 points on 5-of-7 field goals, along with 3 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal, giving him a season-best performance index rating of 25.
Hackett is renowned as an excellent defender, and the intensity he delivered also helped set the tone for an exceptional second half from a defensive perspective, as CSKA restricted Buducnost to just 22 points in the last two quarters, including a 5-minutes scoreless run at the start of the final period which sentenced the outcome beyond any doubt.
The determination of the Russian giant to gain a statement-making victory is emphasised by the aggression it showed under the boards, outrebounding Buducnost 40-24. Those rebounds were taken by 11 different players, while 9 different players were responsible for the 11 steals taken by CSKA. So although De Colo and Hackett shone, with an honorable mention for Kyle Hines setting a new personal best with 7 assists, this was very much a team effort: CSKA really wanted this win, and everyone played their part.