By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Eurohoops will select 3 players from each team in the Final Four whose performance we consider crucial regarding how their teams will fare in Madrid and will present them in 12 different parts. One by one they will “parade” through and we will focus on their role and the reasons they are important.
Why he’s a catalyst
He came back to complete not just the season, but his entire, long and full of achievements career in CSKA. We didn’t have to wait for the last few months of the Russian super star’s basketball in order to scan the style of his game. It’s pretty well known worldwide! A multi tool that can perform all the tasks at a high level some of which at a top level.
A player that makes the difference in defense with his long arms, his height and the perception of space that he has. Charismatic in blocking, rebounding and in tampering with the opponent’s offenses in every way. In offense he has a fully developed repertoire in passing and a great creative perception, without even having to dribble that much. Super efficient in finishing close to the rim, the only feature of his game that is characterized by inconsistency is the long shot. He doesn’t execute that often from the perimeter and the series against Panathinaikos was probably the exception. He shot 6/11 three-point field goals, a percentage of 54.5%!
His competitive inaction naturally showed in his first appearances but with time he raised his performance level and his numbers sharply and in the playoffs he reached the levels of the 2011-12 season when he was named the MVP of the Euroleague.
His coach, Dimitris Itoudis, is expecting Kirilenko to simply be himself and with his experience, but also the calm way in which he handles the big games, to push CSKA toward the title. All Around appearances. This is what his team can expect. Large impact on defense, rebounds, the battle of possessions and substantial contribution in offense, either by creating, or by scoring.
The truth is that CSKA possesses a multitude of quality players in all positions and the forwards line is no exception. A Kirilenko in form, though, raises the level of any team in Europe and will constitute a powerful weapon in the ‘bear’s return to the top after 7 years and 5 failed attempts in 6 years.
The curtain drop that he deserves
We are talking about an athlete who has tasted the sweet taste of recognition in Europe as well as the NBA with an internationally acclaimed career. In 2012 he was the MVP and best defensive player in the Euroleague. He got the MVP award the same season in the VTB as well. He was won titles in Eurobasket (gold and bronze medals), he has won a medal in the Olympic Games, and for more than 10 seasons he had excellent numbers in the NBA and was named an All Star in 2004.
What could be better than hanging up his boots as a European champion, a title that he lacks on a club level? Even if he doesn’t make it, his place in the pantheon of basketball will not change. It would just be the icing on the cake. The curtain drop that such a great sportsman deserves.