Ahead of Sunday’s Euroleague final, CSKA Moscow’s Andrei Kirilenko admitted that nerves got the better of him at the start of the semi-final against Panathinaikos.
The former Utah Jazz forward committed two fouls in the opening four minutes of the first quarter as the Panathinaikos players targeted Kirilenko. He would go on to hit 17 points and make key defensive stops as CSKA edged last year’s Euroleague winners 66-64.
During the post-game press conference, coach Jonas Kazlauskas admitted that Kirilenko was nervous, something that the Russian superstar agreed with.
“I think we were all nervous,” Kirilenko said. “I wouldn’t say that I was nervous about how the game would go but the start of the game, to get the first touch, to get the first shot, to get the first good move, I think it was more being eager than anything but there were nerves.
“It’s not a playoff series, it’s one game and any mistake can determine the outcome, everyone was nervous I think to start.”
Kirilenko; a favourite to win this year’s Euroleague MVP crown, which will be named before the final says that Olympiacos’ win over Barcelona was no fluke and that Sunday’s final will be between the top two teams in Europe.
“We want to play the strongest team, who ever is strongest at this moment and that is Olympiacos, they will play CSKA in the final, so they are the top two in Europe,” Kirilenko stated.
You have to go back to 2001 when Kirilenko was last in a Final Four, he helped CSKA Moscow win the Suproleague Final Four.”