By Nikos Varlas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
As Eurohoops reported exclusively on Sunday morning Andrey Kirilenko signed until the end of the season with CSKA, he returns to his homeland and his previous team in order to win titles. The Russian icon got out of the waivers list and CSKA announced his signing on Tuesday morning.
Kirilenko was a member of the 2011-12 CSKA team, when the Russians had a great season, but failed to win the Euroleague title in Istanbul and lost the final in a heartbreaking way to Olympiacos at the last moment. The super star of Russian Basketball returned home once more and this time he may be back for good after his recent adventures in the NBA.
Of course, Kirilenko is a very important addition for CSKA, proving again that the club is capable to finish big deals in a positive way. The team was already one of the biggest favorites for the qualification to the final four of Madrid and the return of Andrey Kirilenko to Moscow makes CSKA even stronger and more motivated.
CSKA president Andrey Vatutin commented on this signing: “It is always risky to try to improve the team in the course of the season. Especially when you invite the real star, not just a role player. Still any action connected to Andrey Kirilenko’s name are special, they don’t make you think twice. We always stayed in contact, and I’ve said already that the locker is reserved for Andrey in our locker room. Now I am happy to give this locker to its legitimate owner. You can say a lot of words describing how much Kirilenko means for CSKA and Russian basketball, what an excitement he brings when the team comes to any Russian or European city. I would say that the interest to Euroleague and VTB League is guaranteed to rise. We’ve experienced all of this already. And it is very difficult to describe our fans’ emotions right now. I am sure that Kirilenko does not need much time to get his shape back – Andrei stayed fit, he will join the team’s practices today. He played together with most of CSKA leaders in the club and in the National Team so he will adopt quickly. The idea to bring the ‘newcomer’ to the team was supported by Dimitris Itoudis: our head coach is not afraid of the difficulties which you cannot avoid while adding the strong player to the roster. We were able to sign the strongest Russian player and it is very important under the limit. Besides we managed to do it within the deadline and this is really great. I would like to thank Norilsk Nickel management separately. Our owners show true interest in the team’s results, they try to create the best conditions possible to help CSKA win.
CSKA’s coach Dimitris Itoudis added: “Everyone knows who is Kirilenko and what he means for CSKA. Hopefully Andrei will join us healthy, and we will do everything possible to get him back in shape and help him adopt our basketball philosophy. All our coaching staff (and Kirilenko had a chance to work with some of its members) will be here to help. We talked on the phone already, I sent Andrei our playbook and I know he practiced individually. Kirilenko used to play on the highest level, he has a feeling of the game, he has talent and I am sure that he will adjust quickly though our first priority is not to rush things”.
And finally Kirilenko himself said about his return: “I am glad to be back to my favorite team, where I played in the beginning of my careeer, then in the middle of it. It’s great that I got this chance and I was happy to use it. I understand that the time has come to think about quitting as a pro player and in my opinion it is better to do it in my dear club’s uniform”.