The reigning champs are always under surveillance, and to be frank about it, everybody wants a piece of the champs, and until the 45th minute of the 30th game of the regular season, this preview looked different to say the least simply in one word: AMAZING.
On Paper: 3-1 CSKA
They are the reigning champs, they are the more complete team, they are more experienced, they made it to the last five F4’s, they have De-Colosic and well… they are CSKA
Because it can go 3-0 or 3-2 pending on how the first two games develop and also on the Fernando Buesa arena.
Leave De-Colosic Alone:
Look around the old continent can you find or think of a better one two punch (backcourt) than Milos Teodosic and Nando De-Colo? Probably not, acknowledging that they are the best 1-2 punch in Europe is enormous, because usually these two get their way almost every game, they will make shots, they will pass the ball in an artistic manner, they will run back door cuts and pretty much make everyone including their opponents look at them with amazement. So what can you do? Well that brings us to…..
It’s all about the assist(ing) team:
Beating CSKA is an exhausting mission by itself let alone in a best of five series, and that’s regardless of the strategy you’re going with- stopping the “stars” (is there someone within that roster who’s not considered as such?) and in most cases you will fail, or you can try and have a go at the X-factors, aka their assisting team- limit them to a minimal damage (boxing out, forcing bad passing angles), and on top of it all be ready to play hard and aggressive for 40 minutes (yes 40 not 25, not 35 nor 38), go for every hustle play possible (just keep coming at them-no matter what), and then maybe just maybe you’ll get the chance to fight for another day.
No Toko, No Bueno, No Party:
Throughout the regular season Tornike Shengelia have missed nine games, that have spread into three different periods, the seventh and eighth games in which they had one win and one loss, the second period was from the 18th game until the 23rd game in which they had one win and five losses, and the last game of the regular season which they lost to Zalgiris. In total the Basques record with Toko 15-6, their record without him is 2-7, as mentioned: no Toko no bueno.
Those losses have proven to be too much as Baskonia lost its mojo, meaning from that point they were no longer considered as a potential “top four team” anymore, and even though they’ve managed to get their stride on, problem was that from moment it seemed that the comparison to the 2015-16 dreamy season are now long gone.
The Better home:
“Probably the less remembered 14-1 home team in the regular season” said Emmet Ryan of BallinEurope during Sweet16’s weakly episode, and boy was he right, from the three teams to have finished with a 14-1 home record CSKA’s fans (with all due respect) are not known for the noise nor for making their arena a “hostile environment”, on the other hand the Fernando Buesa arena have delivered a miracle or two this season and with the Basque orchestra in the background one must ask…
Who you got for this series and in how many games?