CSKA Moscow comes into its second and final stop on the 2013 Euroleague Basketball US Tour with a bit of a hop in its step. The Russian champs face a few old friends Wednesday when they take on the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA’s 2013 runner-up, at the AT&T Center.
CSKA Moscow started its 2013 US Tour in style on Monday by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-106 in an overtime thriller in Minneapolis. The win was CSKA’s third over an NBA team. Milos Teodosic led eight CSKA scorers in double figures with 26 points and 9 assists; his free throws with 7.5 seconds left in regulation tied the game and helped force overtime. Nenad Krstic and Vitaly Firdzon scored 13 points apiece for the Russian champs, Sasha Kaun netted 12 and Victor Khryapa and Jeremy Pargo had 11 each. Derrick Williams paced Minnesota with 21 points, Kevin Martin added 16, A.J Price 14 and former Euroleague star Ricky Rubio scored 10 in defeat.
CSKA arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday evening on a direct flight from Minneapolis and went directly to a training session at the Spurs’ private practice facility, where a number of old friends greeted them. Trajan Langdon, who helped CSKA to a pair of Euroleague titles in his six seasons with the club, is now employed as a scout by the Spurs, as is Claudio Crippa, who was CSKA’s lead scout during Messina’s first run on the Moscow bench.
The Spurs roster features many faces that are familiar to Euroleague fans. Manu Ginobili of Argentina is a former Euroleague and world champion, while Brazilian center Tiago Splitter was a three-time All-Euroleague selection during his time with Tau Ceramica/Caja Laboral Baskonia in Spain. Frenchman Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw, Australian Aron Baynes, Italy’s Marco Belinelli, and Danny Green of the USA have all also played in Europe’s top competition. Aside from those, Tony Parker, Diaw and De Colo recently won the 2013 Eurobasket with the French national team.
Splitter spoke fondly of his main of his many clashes over the years with CSKA, which he referred to as “one of the best teams of the last decade.”
“It will be interesting to play CSKA again,” he said after Wednesday morning’s shoot around. “We always had big games in the Euroleague, especially in the Final Four. We won some and lost some. CSKA always had a great team.” When asked about the chance to play a Euroleague team in the Unites States, Splitter responded: “I think it’s great! It will be a different game, an interesting game.”
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