Despite becoming the first team to qualify for the EuroLeague playoffs, CSKA Moscow guard Nando De Colo doesn’t want his team to drop down a gear.
In fact, the Frenchman wants CSKA to move up instead.
The Muscovites were 93-86 winners at home to Baskonia on Thursday night. De Colo, who is averaging a team-high 16.7 points a game was quiet with just eight points, however with the firepower available, the Russian giants were able to overcome their Vitoria counterparts.
“Know we are now qualified for the playoffs, so our first goal is completed,” said De Colo.
“We have to keep working. We need to be more focused on what we need to do on the court. We were better in the second half. It’s a long season. We have another big game next week.”
The win though was not CSKA’s most memorable, with Baskonia enjoying a 49-46 lead at the break and taking advantage of at times, lacklustre defending by the 2016 EuroLeague champions.
However, CSKA eventually pulled themselves together, before pulling away in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of a fatigued Baskonia team.
“We were a little bit better defensively in the second half,” CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis said.
“We played with more energy, we were smarter I would say. We were there to challenge the shots, ‘cause Baskonia shot 8 out of 10 [on three-point shots] in the first half and they were 3 out of 9 in the second half, so we did contest most of the shots, we had a good rotation, we stole a couple of balls and we forced turnovers, which was good.
“It is a big number, 19 turnovers. Most of those turnovers were forced because of good defence. We won all three quarters. We haven’t played overall the defence we wanted to play. Offensively I would say that even though we had good numbers, eventually we did not move well and fast enough in the half court.”