Anadolu Efes and CSKA Moscow conclude campaign in Euroleague Top 16
Anadolu Efes is set to finish its 2011-12 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season with a top-class win against Top 16 Group E champion CSKA Moscow in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. Efes (1-4) is mathematically out of the Playoffs race since its loss against Galatasaray Medical Park last week. CSKA (4-1) has clinched first place but will try to get a prestigious road win to bounce back from its last visit to Istanbul, in which Galatasaray handed the Russian powerhouse its only loss in this Euroleague season. Efes had a 5-2 home record against CSKA, whose last road win against the Turkish powerhouse dates back to the 2008-09 season.
Viktor Khryapa returned to action against Olympiacos, so CSKA has a full roster available. Efes is without Ermal Kuqo, still sidelined due to an ankle injury. Esteban Batista left last week's Euroleague game with a small injury but returned this weekend. Kerem Gonlum is back for the first time this season, too. Since Efes has no chance to advance and CSKA is already first, both coaches may use different rotations in this game, even sitting out some players.
Efes must find a way to stop Andrei Kirilenko if it wants to increase its chances to win. Kirilenko is a defensive headache at small forward due to his size, dynamism and talent. Tarence Kinsey’s athleticism and quickness makes the main candidate to guard him. Sharpshooter Cenk Akyol may see playing time against him, too. Kirilenko will have plenty of help at both wings from swingman Ramunas Siskauskas and athletic guard Alexey Shved, while Evgeny Voronov and Anton Ponkrashov may also see extra playing time. Siskauskas must use his one-on-one skills, size and experience against scoring ace Sasha Vujacic. Meanwhile, Shved needs to play aggressively against solid defensive guards Sinan Guler and Dogus Balbay. The point guard battle will be interesting, too. Milos Teodosic needs to make the most out of his creativity and passing skills against veteran Kerem Tunceri, whose defense and clutch play could lift Efes to a big win. Jamont Gordon will back up Teodosic, offering explosiveness and driving skills against a solid all-around point guard like Oliver Lafayette.
With Kuqo sidelined, Dusko Savanovic, Esteban Batista and Stanko Barac will see most of the playing time under the basket. Savanovic must use his post skills and deep range against prime-time defensive stopper Khryapa and strong power forward Andrey Vorontsevich. Barac and Batista must battle hard against Nenad Krstic and Sasha Kaun. Gonlum was in Efes' lineup last week and may see some playing time for the first time this season. Efes will look for a prestigious win against CSKA, whose next goal will be getting back to Sinan Erdem in mid-May to fight for the Euroleague title.
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