Russia’s most decorated basketball team CSKA Moscow have made it into the last 16 of the continent’s top club competition – The Euroleague. And by the way, the Muscovites achieved that with three games still left on the group stage calendar.
That’s right, the Army Men suffered only one defeat in this campaign and that was against Barcelona. But Ettore Messina’s men still collected five victories which were enough to progress. And speaking of the head coach, the Italian specialist returned to CSKA this year, after the legendary Jonas Kazlauskas left the club, following a disappointing Euroleague final loss against Greek Olympiakos.
Yes I was at that final game in Turkey and the guys were really devastated after that defeat. But with the arrival of Ettore Messina, CSKA are hoped to win it all this year... and the Italian probably knows better than most how to win top trophies. After all, he won four Euroleague titles (2 of which were with CSKA in the last 6 years) And by the way I managed to get a couple of minutes of him after his side booked a spot in the last 16 after a confident win against visiting Partizan Belgrade at Megasport arena in Moscow.
Ettore Messina CSKA head coach.
Two key players left the Army Men for the NBA in the off-season. Andrey Kirilenko and Aleskey Shved both made their way to Minnesota Timberwolves while the core of the team remained pretty much intact. Aleksandr Kaun, Viktor Khriapa and Anton Ponkrashov represent the strongest Russian contingent from last year, along with Serbians Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic.
Yes and let’s not forget the 3 new arrivals from the United States, one of whom is already making waves in the Euroleague. Forward Sonny Weems signed with CSKA after spending a season at Zalgiris and he is already in the top 5 scoring list of the Euroleague, averaging over 16 points per game.
That’s right and he was also the highest scorer CSKA against Partizan in last week’s match. I got a pass into the Army Men’s dressing room and managed to speak with Moscow’s hot new arrival.
Sonny Weems CSKA Forward/Guard
Russian shooting skiers successfully opened the new season by claiming a maiden mixed relay victory in Ostersund.
The national biathlon squad comprised of two-time Olympic champion Olga Zaytseva,world bronze medalist Olga Vilukhina, Aleksey Volkov and 2010 Olympic title holder Evgeny Ustyugov, crossed the 27-kilometer distance in 1 hour 13 minutes posting the fastest time of the day in the process.
Russian quartet needed just 6 extra bullets to strike all of the targets and fortunately none of the national biathletes was forced to cover a penalty loop.
Two time Olympic winner and multiple world champion Emil Hegle Svendsen tried hard to reduce the gap between himslef and Evgeniy Ustugov, but all of his efforts fell short as the Russian star was precise and fast and scured Russia's lead until the very finish.
Ustugov left his Norwegian counterpart 21.4 seconds behind. Surprisingly, the national team of theCzech Republic completed the podium losing 36.4 seconds to Russia. Germany was left without awards on Sunday as they finished in 4th place.
The first individual race of the World Cup campaign, the men's 20km, is scheduled for Wednesday in Ostersund.