Baskonia and CSKA Moscow have a long history between them and Thursday night’s clash in Vitoria will be a very tough match. There are some players who played for Baskonia and now they play in Russia like Mike James, Darrun Hillard or Johannes Voigtmann. But, maybe the most important one is Tornike Shengelia, who played the last six seasons in Spain and led Baskonia as team’s captain to a 2016 Euroleague Final Four and 2020 ACB Championship.
For Baskonia this game came in an uncomfortable moment as they lost last game in Germany against a shorthanded ALBA Berlin. Despite a slow start, Baskonia has the power to overcome a 12-points deficit from the third quarter and turn it into a 5-points lead in the last minutes of the game. They failed to protect that lead and ALBA came out victorious 94-91. For Baskonia the main contributors were Achille Polonara with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Zoran Dragic with 17 points. For this game, they have the full roster available.
CSKA Moscow is in a very good shape, winning their last 15 games in all competitions, a run that started with the win over Baskonia 89-86 on 12 November 2020. The Russian team play very good basketball has a deep and powerful roster which helped them to get the first position in Euroleague after 17 games with a 14-3 record. They are heavy favourites to win the title if their players remain healthy. In their last game in Euroleague, they were very close to losing that run against Armani Milano, but in the end, they won the game 91-87 after overtime. They were dominant in the paint, winning the rebounds battle 60-33, including 30 offensive rebounds. The main contributors were Mike James (20 points and 10 assists), Daniel Hackett (19 points and 5 rebounds) and Nikola Milutinov (17 points and 19 rebounds). For this game, Hackett and Will Clyburn are out for CSKA.
Milutinov was recently voted the MVP for December and we expect another great game for him in the paint. CSKA has the first chance here, even with those two absentees because Baskonia can’t stop them in the paint, while Mike James will continue to score a lot of points and run the offense as he did in Milano.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc