Looking at Group D of the Euroleague before the Regular Season started, it was clear that CSKA Moscow would not be the favorites to win the group, which also included Panathinaikos as well as Efes Pilsen. But also drawn into Group D were Union Olimpija, Armani Jeans Milano and Power Elec. Valencia.
And this was CSKA Moscow – the Russian powers who reached the Euroleague Final Four eight straight times with the much-heralded “heart of a champion”.
Well, AJ Milano’s Ibby Jaaber stapped a dagger three-pointer into CSKA’s heart with 10.7 seconds left for a 71-65 victory at home over Moscow. The defeat leaves CSKA 1-5 in Group D and their “heart of a champion” on major life support as they lag in last place.
Panathinaikos and Olimpija will likely battle for the top spot with both teams at 4-1 while Efes Pilsen is third at 3-2 and AJ Milano at 3-3 with Valencia at 1-4.
Moscow, which saw Ramunas Siskauskas only split a pair of free throws and Jamont Gordon travel just after passing the midcourt line in the final seconds, fell to 0-4 on the road with only a win over Olimpija to show for their campaign.
Dusko Vujosevic’s side finishes Group D play at home against Panathinaikos and Valencia before heading to Olimpija and then hosting Efes Pilsen.
One of the most impressive streaks in European basketball history is in serious, serious danger of going down.
The result of CSKA Moscow bowing out at the group stage could lead to the Russian team bosses dismantling the suddenly quickly aging side – which includes 34-year-olds J.R. Holden and Trajan Langdon as well as 32-year-old Siskauskas and 31-year-old Matjaz Smodis.
That is still a long ways away but CSKA even suffered a home loss in the Russian PBL against Unics Kazan, leaving some to wonder if another Russian club could actually do the unthinkable and snap Moscow’s eight-year reign in the league.
Unthinkable? Well, so was CSKA’s “hearts of champions” being 1-5 after six games in Group D.