When the time comes to summarize Nando De Colo's brilliant career, the odds are that he will be more identified with CSKA Moscow than with any other club. After all, the star guard, who now plies his trade for Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, spent five seasons as an All-EuroLeague performer for CSKA, which is the longest he has played at any stop in his career.
In that time, he helped CSKA win the 2016 and 2019 EuroLeague titles. De Colo was voted to the All-EuroLeague in every season he spent with CSKA and he made history in 2015-16 as the first player ever to win the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy and to be voted both the full-season and Final Four MVP. So it's safe to say that De Colo enjoys a level of comfort in Moscow and that every opportunity to face his former team is special.
In five games against CSKA last season, De Colo averaged 20.2 points on excellent shooting, however, Fenerbahce only won once and was swept by CSKA in the playoffs. This time De Colo made sure he would leave Moscow with the victory.
With the game on the line Thursday, De Colo looked every bit his former-MVP self. After Johannes Voigtmann drilled a three-pointer with just under 2 minutes on the clock to make it 78-81, De Colo took charge. First, he nailed a three from the top of the key and – after Joel Bolomboy sank free throws – De Colo took the ball again with the shot clock winding down, faked to send former teammate Will Clyburn flying past him, and connected on his fourth three of the game to put his team up 7 in the final minute.
"In the end, our leader, one of our leaders, Nando de Colo closed the game in an exceptional way," Coach Sasa Djordjevic said after the game.
De Colo truly was the leader as he finished the game with a season-high 18 points, 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks for a performance index rating of 22. He blocked 2 shots by Daniel Hackett – one in the low-point in the first quarter and the other on an attempted three in the final minute. It marked the first time in De Colo's 232 career games in which he had multiple blocks. In fact, he had four full seasons in which he didn't block 2 shots!
It was just another of the special things that will always connect De Colo to Moscow and make it must-see basketball whenever he takes on CSKA.