The teams met just once last season, at Kaliningrad. It also happened in the pre-New Year time, and the Army Men prevailed. Due to quarantines the second game wasn’t played. Since then the “relativity connections” became even deeper – you can read about them below.
The Red-Blues got the day off upon their return from Kazan. But the optional practice still featured most of the roster. 13 players boarded the plane to Milan: Will Clyburn stayed at Moscow to continue his rehab, as well as second team players Yuri Umrikhin and Alexander Shashkov who actively work with the main team.
Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA head coach:
First, I would like to say Merry Christmas to the ones who celebrate. I hope the New Year will find your friends and relatives healthy and happy. Regarding the game, Milan team has been built for big things this year. They have a lot of experience, EuroLeague winners, they have a lot of potential and enthusiasm, they play good basketball, they shoot the ball pretty good, they are among the best teams in shooting beyond the arch. Ettore's been using many different lineups, small ball, big ball - they have enough size and experience for that. Overall it's a good team and we expect a big fight over there. A lot of details will play their roles. While scouting their games we noticed that they change defenses accordingly to the opponent, their offensive skills are evident on the court. Tough game, but we are ready to go.
Semen Antonov, CSKA forward:
We are in good working mood. We are coming to Milan to get the win. We scouted our opponents, we know their strengths and weaknesses. It’s an experienced team that knows how to play offense and defense, but they have their weak spots that we will try to use in our favor to continue our EuroLeague streak. It will be great to see our former teammates, to talk about families and kids. But this is what we will do in the morning. There are no friends in the game. They have no true leaders, everyone is dangerous, everyone can get hot, so we have to act accordingly to the coach’s plan for all 40 minutes.
Coach Ettore Messina had two highly-successful stints coaching CSKA. In his first four-year period in the Russian capital, Messina guided CSKA to two EuroLeague titles (2006 and 2008) and reached two more championship games (2007 and 2009). In his second stint, he reached the Final Four twice (2013 and 2014). During his years at CSKA, Messina coached three players from the current CSKA roster: Andrey Vorontsevich, Kyle Hines and Nikita Kurbanov.
Milan center Kyle Hines spent the last seven seasons with CSKA Moscow. He played 218 EuroLeague games with CSKA, helping the team reach every Final Four in that period, during which they won a total of 173 games and EuroLeague crowns in 2016 and 2019. During his time with the club, he was named team captain and voted as the competition's Best Defender in 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Mike James played for Milan during the 2018-19 season, when he was the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner averaging 19.8 points per game.
Sergio Rodriguez spent two seasons with CSKA, from 2017 to 2019, and helped it win the 2019 EuroLeague title. He played under head coach Dimitris Itoudis and was a teammate of the majority of the current CSKA squad.
Vladimir Micov played for CSKA Moscow for two seasons from 2012 to 2014, during which he reached a pair of EuroLeague Final Fours and won a pair of VTB United League titles. He was a teammate of Kyle Hines during his second season with the club.
Daniel Hackett played for Milan for a season and a half. Hackett joined Milan in December 2013 and stayed there until the summer of 2015. He helped it reach the 2014 EuroLeague Playoffs.
Hackett played under Milan head coach Ettore Messina on the Italian national team in 2016.
Janis Strelnieks and Zach LeDay of Milan were teammates at Olympiacos Piraeus during the 2018-19 season.
Michael Roll was a teammate of CSKA guard Mike James at Laboral Kutxa, now called KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, briefly at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Milan forward Shavon Shields and Tornike Shengelia were teammates at Baskonia the past two seasons. They won the 2020 Spanish League title together.
Nikita Kurbanov and Malcolm Delaney played for Lokomotiv-Kuban in 2014-15 season.
Ten different players have appeared in CSKA's starting lineups so far this season. Only Nikita Kurbanov has started in every game.
Mike James has made at least 1 three-point shot in 10 straight and 35 of his last 36 games. He ranks fourth this season with 2.7 three-point shots made per game.
James has scored in double figures in 10 straight and 40 of his last 41 games. He leads the EuroLeague in scoring this season with 20.6 points per game.
Mike James needs 17 points to reach 2,500 for his career.
James has posted a PIR of at least 19 in eight straight games. James ranks second this season in average PIR with 21.9 per game.
James ranks seventh this season with 5.7 assists per game.
Will Clyburn has made a three-pointer in eight of his last nine games.
Darrun Hilliard has made at least 1 three-pointer in 10 of his last 11 games.
Hilliard has made 13 consecutive free throws.
Janis Strelnieks ranks sixth all-time in free-throw accuracy at 90.9%.
Nikola Milutinov ranks eighth this season in average PIR with 16.6 per game and third in two-point accuracy this season at 73.0%.
Milutinov leads the league this season with 8.0 rebounds and 3.6 offensive rebounds per game.
Nikola Milutinov is ranked eighth all-time with 423 offensive rebounds; Ioannis Bourousis is seventh with 439.
1965-66. European Champions Cup. Semifinal. CSKA – Olimpia: 57-68 (-11)
1982-83. European Champions Cup. Final Round. Olimpia – CSKA: 94-86 (-8)
1982-83. European Champions Cup. Final Round. CSKA – Olimpia: 79-78 (+1)
1996-97. Euroleague. Preliminary Round. Adecco – CSKA: 87-74 (-13)
1996-97. Euroleague. Preliminary Round. CSKA – Adecco: 70-55 (+15)
2008-09. Euroleague. Regular Season. CSKA – Armani Jeans: 90-64 (+26)
2008-09. Euroleague. Regular Season. Armani Jeans – CSKA: 80-79 (-1)
2010-11. Euroleague. Regular Season. CSKA – Armani Jeans: 73-88 (-15)
2010-11. Euroleague. Regular Season. Armani Jeans – CSKA: 71-65 (-6)
2014-15. Euroleague. Top 16. CSKA – EA7 Milan: 97-75 (+22)
2014-15. Euroleague. Top 16. EA7 Milan – CSKA: 79-88 (+9)
2016-17. Euroleague. Regular season. EA7 Milan – CSKA: 64-79 (+15)
2016-17. Euroleague. Regular season. CSKA – EA7 Milan: 101-64 (+37)
2017-18. Euroleague. Regular season. CSKA – AX Olimpia Milan: 93-84 (+9)
2017-18. Euroleague. Regular season. AX Olimpia Milan – CSKA: 81-107 (+26)
2018-19. Euroleague. Regular season. AX Olimpia Milan – CSKA: 85-90 (+5)
2018-19. Euroleague. Regular season. CSKA – AX Olimpia Milan: 101-95 (+6)
2019-20. Euroleague. Regular season. CSKA – AX Olimpia Milan: 78-75 (+3)
AX Olimpia Milan, Italy
Colors: red, white
Home court: Mediolanum Forum (11,200)
Owner: Giorgio Armani
President: Pantaleo Dell’Orco
Head coach: Ettore Messina
Trophy case: 3-time Euroleague champions (1966, 87, 88), 3-time Cup Winners Cup champions (1971, 72, 76), 2-time Korac Cup winners (1985, 93), Intercontinental Cup winners (1987), 28-time Italian champions (1936, 37, 38, 39, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67, 72, 82, 85, 86, 87, 89, 96, 2014, 16, 18), 6-time Italian Cup winners (1972, 86, 87, 96, 16, 17), 2-time Italian SuperCup winners (2016, 18)