Time: October 12, 20:45 CET or 2:45 ET
The new Zalgirio Arena doesn’t just get the honor of hosting the medal rounds of 2011 Eurobasket, but it’s also hosting the opening game of Eurobasket. It’s a strong opener between the Lithuanian League champs, Zalgiris Kaunas, and Russian League champs, CSKA Moscow. Both teams are expected to advance to the round of 16.
CSKA Moscow is a perennial championship contender, but suffered a massive letdown last season when they didn’t get past the championship round. This prompted a massive retooling effort. NBA players Andrei Kirilenko and Nenad Krstic were brought in. In addition, former Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic, former All-Euroleague big man Darjus Lavrinovic, Russian national team star Anton Ponkrashov, and one of last season’s top scorers, Sammy Mejia were added. They join former Euroleague MVP, Ramunas Siskauskas; 2010 Best Defender Viktos Khryapa, promising forward Andrey Vorontsevich and athletic guard Jamont Gordon. There team is loaded with talent and they should advance past the regular season easily. However their title hopes rest on the shoulders of Kirilenko whom the offense will surely revolve around.
Zalgiris is hoping that the new additions to their team will make turn them into a championship contender. Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems come from the NBA to bolster the Zalgiris offense. They join reigning Eurocup Finals MVP Marko Popovic and center Robertas Javtokas. The additions add new toughness to the Zalgiris frontcourt and an explosive scoring punch in the backcourt. All of Zalgiris’s hopes’ rests on Lawson. He will surely have superior speed in every matchup he faces in Europe, but it’ll be interesting to see whether he can adjust to the differences between the NBA and European game.
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