In perhaps the toughest group in Turkish Airlines Euroleague history, CSKA Moscow entered February with a 3-2 record, its worst start through five Top 16 games in more than a decade.
Three victories later, CSKA has emerged as the Group F co-leader thanks in great measure to the continuing excellence of guard Nando De Colo, who is Euroleague Basketball’s choice as MVP of February.
De Colo was the picture of consistency as he matched his league-high scoring average in every game during February while also doing enough other things to become CSKA’s top-rated performer in two of those three triumphs.
During a runaway road win against Zalgiris to start the month, then in tight home victories over dangerous rivals Olympiacos Piraeus and Khimki Moscow Region, CSKA again and again found its spark in De Colo.
The 28-year-old guard finished the month ranked among the best 15 players in the Top 16 in no fewer than 12 statistical categories. Helping to position his team for a return to the playoffs was no easy feat in a group with four more ex-champions, but that was the mission that CSKA accomplished with flying colors in February as De Colo shined through as MVP of the Month!
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 12th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team’s performance. The award for February was based on the three Top 16 games that all teams played during the month.
Appropriately enough, De Colo hit the first basket of February for CSKA in what soon became a blowout 59-94 road win against Zalgiris Kaunas. De Colo finished with 19 points in less than 23 minutes on court while hitting 3 three-pointers, pulling 3 rebounds, dishing 3 assists and making 3 steals, the most by a CSKA player all month.
At home the following week, De Colo scored 14 of his 19 points after halftime and made 4 assists as CSKA turned away visiting Olympiacos with a 92-85 decision. In February’s last game, CSKA had the chance to avenge its first Top 16 loss, which had happened at the buzzer to cross-town rival Khimki. But there was no drama this time as De Colo piled up 19 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. His assist total was another high for CSKA in February, proving that while he leads the Euroleague in scoring, De Colo does plenty more to help his team win. In so doing, CSKA won its three games by an average of 17.3 points, thereby boosting its chances for a higher place if tiebreakers come into play in the tight Group F standings.
In a short month during which CSKA went from doubt to dominance, De Colo finished with averages of 19 points, 2 steals and 25 PIR, putting him among the top five players in February in all three categories. With his team-high 5 assists per game for the month, too, De Colo did everything in his power to put CSKA in the driver’s seat of the playoffs race. His efforts are sure to be cheered again by CSKA’s faithful fans when De Colo receives his award at an upcoming home game.