Though CSKA Moscow and Žalgiris Kaunas have never met on a opening day before, this matchup of perpetual Continental powers makes for an appropriate inauguration for the 2011-12 Euroleague season.
Since the 2001-02 edition of the big league, both sides have appeared in Europe’s top basketball competition, building up something of a rivalry (albeit a bit of a one-sided one) over the past ten seasons over eight EL meetings and a handful of others in various pan-European competition.
On this opening day, BallinEurope takes a brief look back at previous clashes between these two clubs.
• In the modern era, things began for these teams in 2003-04. That memorable season saw Arvydas Sabonis suiting up for Žalgiris for a third go around and bagging the league MVP award despite his advanced age of 39 and the Lithuanian side’s bouncing from the Top 16 round.
CSKA would meet Žalgiris in week seven of the old 14-game pool-play format that season; the old warrior Sabonis played limited minutes in battling a flu bug, yet still went for 19 points and eight rebounds. (See video below for an admirable display of Sabas’ range and general dominance – who’d’ve known he was virus-laden?) Moscow emerged as winners anyway, with J.R. Holden unstoppable from outside and Marcus Brown, he who would a few years later become Kaunas’ favorite adopted son, each putting in 21 points for CSKA in the fast-paced 90-81 victory.