12.11.2015
Our team got used to play against Unicaja, and the games between teams are always interesting and profound…
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Impeccable acquaintance
Our team got used to play against Unicaja, and the games between teams are always interesting and profound.

“CSKA and Unicaja are still undefeated, we both play good basketball and win deservedly,” CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis said. “We know each other very well as we played both in regular season and in Top 16 last year, not counting preseason games. They refreshed the roster and created a much better team, more athletic and competitive, with better frontline and backcourt. We expect a difficult game and we respect our opponents a lot, we will prepare very seriously. They are really aggressive on both ends. Definitely the number of possessions will be one of the main factors to win the game. By saying this I mean that you have to win rebounding battle and limit the number of turnovers. I would like to invite all our fans to come and support us again one of the group leaders.”

Joel Freeland (calf) and Victor Khryapa (wrist) will miss the game.

“Relativity” connections


Joel Freeland played for Unicaja from 2009 till 2012.

Dimitris Itoudis and Andreas Pistiolis coached Unicaja guard Stefan Markovic two seasons ago in Turkey at Banvit Bandirma.

CSKA assistant coach Darryl Middleton was the teammate of German Gabriel in Girona (2006-07) and Markovic in Valencia (2010-11).

Stefan Markovic was a teammate of CSKA guard Nando De Colo during the 2011-12 season at Valencia Basket. The backcourt duo helped Valencia reach the Eurocup championship game that season.

Richard Hendrix was a teammate of CSKA forward Nikita Kubanov last season at Lokomotiv Kuban.

Plaza’s stars


Unicaja Malaga has started the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in style, winning all four games until now and setting the basis for a big showdown against CSKA. History says that no team that had a 4-0 start in the Euroleague missed the Top 16. Both teams are Top 16 regulars, but that is where the similarities ends. Unicaja has made it to the Top 16 in each of the last 10 seasons, but only went to the playoffs once. It was in 2007, when Unicaja beat FC Barcelona in the playoffs to reach the Final Four, losing against CSKA. On the other hand, CSKA has made it to the Top 16 in 10 of the last 11 seasons since the playoffs started. CSKA made it to the playoffs, and to the Final Four, in each occasion.

Unicaja is looking to break with its recent past. For starters, fans are going back to Martin Carpena Arena and the team returned to the Spanish League semifinals in each of the last two seasons. A lot has to do with the arrival of ambitious head coach Joan Plaza, who has been successful everywhere he has been. He led Real Madrid to a Spanish League title, lifting also a ULEB Cup trophy, made Cajasol Sevilla reach the Eurocup final in 2011, making Zalgiris Kaunas win its Euroleague regular season group in the 2012-13 season and bringing back Unicaja as a competitive team at all fronts. His playing style is recognizable. Plaza’s team put a lot of pressure on point guards on defense, forcing his big men to double team far away from the rim, and allows players to take full control on offense, making sure everybody is important and has a key role. He is seen as a players’ coach and if you ask around, you will find a lot of players who will back these words.

As always, Coach Plaza does not look for stars, but for valuable players who can fit a role. As such, Unicaja signed Nemanja Nedovic as point guard to complement his Serbian national teammate Stefan Markovic. Both players know Milos Teodosic really well, in what promises to be a key matchup in this game. Unicaja added streak shooters Edwin Jackson and Jamar Smith, who can also be very active on defense, opted for versatility at forwards with the addition of Dani Diez and by keeping Carlos Suarez, but as a part-time power forward now, and added much-needed hustle and defensive intensity with Richard Hendrix in the middle. Make no mistake – if there is a star in this team, it has to be Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who has been coached by Plaza in the last four seasons. Kuzminskas is a mismatch due to his athleticism, size, quickness and the self-confidence he gained over the years.

History is on CSKA’s side – CSKA is 10-1 against Unicaja in Moscow. Unicaja’s only win in the Russian capital came in the 2012-13 Euroleague Top 16, 81-94, behind 28 points from Marcus Williams. Unicaja’s history goes well beyond its foundation in 1992, as both Malaga-based teams – Caja de Ronda and Mayoral Maristas – merged to become a powerhouse. The club was one shot away, literally – by Michael Ansley in Game 4 – to win its first Spanish League title in 1995, when a Russian player, Sergei Babkov, was the biggest reference for Unicaja. Its first title had to wait until 2001, when Unicaja won the Korac Cup. The arrival of Jorge Garbajosa and head coach Sergio Scariolo allowed Unicaja to reach bigger heights, winning the 2005 Copa del Rey, lifting the 2006 Spanish League trophy – its only one to this date – and reaching the 2007 Euroleague Final Four. Unicaja has bounced back and feels it can beat anyone, anywhere, so I am sure CSKA fans will enjoy a very good game at the Alexander Gomelsky CSKA Universal Sports Hall.

Javier Gancedo, euroleague.net for cskabasket.com

Important numbers


Milos Teodosic needs 1 more three-pointer to catch retired CSKA star Marcus Brown for seventh place on the all-time Euroleague charts. Teodosic enters the game with 326 career triples.

Teodosic has made at least 1 three-pointer in 28 consecutive Euroleague games.

Nando De Colo has made at least 1 three-pointer in each of his last 10 Euroleague games.

De Colo has scored in double figures in each of his last nine Euroleague appearances.

Kyle Hines is closing in on a spot among the competition’s all-time top 10 in blocked shots. He enters this game tied with former CSKA forward Marcus Goree for 12th place with 120 career rejections. Nikola Vujcic (122) is 11th and Darjus Lavrinovic (123) 10th.

Andrey Vorontsevich has made at least 1 three-pointer in each of his last six Euroleague appearances.

Past matchups


Wins/losses: 19-4

1995-96 – European Championship for Clubs. Semifinal Round. Unicaja – CSKA: 81-70 (-11)
1995-96 – European Championship for Clubs. Semifinal Round. CSKA – Unicaja: 81-67 (+14)
2002-03 – Euroleague Top 16. Unicaja – CSKA: 76-95 (+19)
2002-03 – Euroleague Top 16. CSKA – Unicaja: 89-70 (+19)
2003-04 – Euroleague Regular Championship. Unicaja – CSKA: 62-65 (+3)
2003-04 – Euroleague Regular Championship. CSKA – Unicaja: 91-84 (+7)
2004-05 – Euroleague Regular Championship. Unicaja – CSKA: 62-73 (+11)
2004-05 – Euroleague Regular Championship. CSKA – Unicaja: 76-70 (+6)
2005-06 – Euroleague Regular Championship. CSKA – Unicaja: 87-63 (+24)
2005-06 – Euroleague Regular Championship. Unicaja – CSKA: 77-72 (-5)
2006-07 – Euroleague. Semifinal. CSKA – Unicaja: 62-50 (+12)
2007-08 – Euroleague Top 16. Unicaja – CSKA: 72-67 (-5)
2007-08 – Euroleague Top 16. CSKA – Unicaja: 93-70 (+23)
2009-10 – Euroleague Top 16. CSKA – Unicaja: 86-78 (+8)
2009-10 – Euroleague Top 16. Unicaja – CSKA: 70-76 (+6)
2011-12 – Euroleague Regular Championship. CSKA – Unicaja: 77-66 (+11)
2011-12 – Euroleague Regular Championship. Unicaja – CSKA: 83-91 (+8)
2012-13 – Euroleague Top 16. CSKA – Unicaja: 81-94 (-13)
2012-13 – Euroleague Top 16. Unicaja – CSKA: 66-70 (+4)
2014-15 – Euroleague. Regular Season. CSKA – Unicaja: 95-85 (+10)
2014-15 – Euroleague. Regular Season. Unicaja – CSKA: 75-76 ОТ (+1)
2014-15 – Euroleague. Top 16. CSKA – Unicaja: 101-74 (+27)
2014-15 – Euroleague. Top 16. Unicaja – CSKA: 77-95 (+18)

Short dossier


Unicaja Malaga, Spain
Founded: 1977
Colors: white, green, lime
Home court: Palacio De Deportes Jose Martin Carpena (10.233 зрителя)
President: Eduardo Garcia Lopez
Head coach: Joan Plaza
Website: www.unicajabaloncesto.com
Accomplishments: Spanish champion (2006), Spanish Cup winner (2005), Korac Cup winner (2001).

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