Quarterfinals: Class vs. Ambition

CSKA hosts Nymburk in the VTB United League playoff quarterfinals.

CSKA, 2014-15 VTB United League champions, 2016 Euroleague Final Four participants
Nymburk, 2015 Czech champions

Time & Location:
Game 1. USH CSKA, Moscow. 7:00 PM (7:00 PM MSK), April 29, 2016
Game 2. USH CSKA, Moscow. 3:00 PM (3:00 PM MSK), May 1, 2016
Game 3. Nymburk Sports Complex, Nymburk. 6:30 PM (7:30 PM MSK), May 4, 2016
Game 4 (if necessary). Nymburk Sports Complex, Nymburk. 7:30 PM (8:30 PM MSK), May 6, 2016
Game 5 (if necessary). USH CSKA, Moscow. TBD, May 9, 2016

Match TV (Russia), Match! Igra (Russia), TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), United League TV

Regular Season:
CSKA: 1st place (28-2)

Nymburk: 8th place (16-14)

Face To Face
Nymburk's only win against CSKA came in its debut season in 2011-12. Ronen Ginzburg's men blew out the Army Men at home, 79-60, CSKA's biggest defeat in seven years in the league. But CSKA boasts a 7-1 record all-time vs. the Czechs.

Looking Back


The Army Men have been afflicted by injuries all season and fans feared that the team wouldn't be able to reach its goals without a healthy center. But those concerns are fading. Despite not being at full strength, Dimitris Itoudis's men finished 1st in the VTB United League and earned a trip to Berlin for the Euroleague Final Four. For a team like CSKA, even one loss against Nymburk would be unpleasant. The team's schedule is packed and extending the series would mean one less day for players to recover and stay healthy.

But this series won't be a cake walk. Ronen Ginzburg's men have scored wins vs. coaches like Georgios Bartzokas, Ainars Bagatskis, Evgeny Pashutin and Jonas Kazlauskas. There's no guarantee Itoudis won't end up on that list. The Czechs are enjoying their best campaign ever in the league and put together a winning record during the regular season.

Can Nymburk take at least one game in the series?

The Czechs have been giant-killers in recent seasons, but had never advanced to the postseason. Once the playoff starts, everything changes: shortened rotations, different speeds and a desire to finish a series as quickly as possible in oder to get an extra vacation day and prepare for the next round. Petr Benda, Pavel Houska and Jiri Welsch are the only long-time players still remaining on the team, but their impact has grown less in recent years.

The team's new leaders are younger and extremely talented, but many are playing in the postseason for the first time. If Michael Dixon, Chasson Randle and other leading Nymburk contributors can play tough and not get rattled by CSKA's pressure, they will have a chance to extend the series. Game 3 in Nymburk will be especially pivotal as Ronen Ginzburg's club tries to defend its home court and keep the series alive.

Michael Dixon vs. CSKA's backcourt.

Nymburk star Michael Dixon will face an intimidating challenge in reigning champs CSKA. He'll have to outplay the VTB United League and European basketball's best guards: Milos Teodosic, Nando De Colo and Aaron Jackson. Each can cause major headaches for their opponents.

Dixon's most recent outings vs. CSKA did not go very well as he averaged less than 20 points while shooting 27% (6-22) and 0-5 beyond the arc. This series will give the 25-year-old an excellent chance to make amends and prove he can compete with the league's top talent.

Nymburk's perimeter defense.

Everyone knows that one of CSKA's biggest weapons is the 3-point shot. The Army Men are connecting at an incredible 43.2% clip this season, scoring exactly one third of their points from beyond the arc. If Nymburk can focus on perimeter defense and make life difficult for the CSKA snipers, they will have a much better chance of success. The head-to-head stats back that up: CSKA shot 45% in Moscow vs. Nymburk to win by 51 points, but only hit 30% of its 3-point attempts in a 20-point win on the road.

Interesting Facts
- Nymburk is the only current foreign team in the VTB United League to ever defeat CSKA.

- Nymburk has better regular-season stats than CSKA in four categories: rebounding, turnovers, steals and fouls. That's a club record.

- Jiri Welsch played more games in the NBA than Nando De Colo, Cory Higgins and Demetris Nichols combined.

CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis:
- We are starting the VTB League playoffs against an athletic team that loves to run and play up-tempo basketball. Nymburk can play with a small lineup or with centers. They can use different styles, including zone defense. We need to be focused and motivated. We know that there could be difficulties in this series. It's good that the team has worked hard in practice and every player is giving 100%. We are concentrated on the first game and will prepare for the series from game to game. I hope the fans will come and support us in the stands.

Nymburk head coach Ronen Ginzburg:
- We accomplished our goal for the season: advancing to the VTB United League playoffs. Now we have a series against one of the best teams in Europe. For us, these games will be a good test and help us gain experience. We'll try to play our best and see what comes of it.

- The games against Nymburk will be a good test ahead of the Final Four, - says legendary Czech center and current VTB United League representative to the Euroleague, FIBA and other international organizations, Jiri Zidek. - The Army Men have an advantage in size, skill and experience. CSKA's bench is also longer and I think Dimitris Itoudis will try to use that. They will try to control the tempo and score points on the fast break. We saw all that at the regular season meeting in Prague. Nymburk has no pressure right now and that's a definite plus. The team is loose and can simply play basketball. The Lions need to minimize turnovers and stretch the defense as much as possible. My prediction is 3-0 to CSKA, but if Nymburk gets hot from outside, especially at home, a surprise is possible!

Team Stats:

95.2 Points 84.2
23.3/39.5 (59.0%) 2-pointers 22.9/44.4 (51.5%)
10.0/23.2 (43.2%) 3-pointers 8.1/23.9 (33.7%)
18.5/23.7 (78.2%) Free throws 14.3/19.0 (75.0%)
37.6 Rebounds 37.7
21.1 Assists 20.6
13.3 Turnovers 12.5
8.5 Steals 8.6
3.7 Blocks 2.9
21.8 Fouls 21.1

Player Stats

Nando De Colo (17.1) Points Michael Dixon (14.2)
Nikita Kurbanov (5.2) Rebounds Howard Sant-Roos (5.4)
Milos Teodosic (5.3) Assists Michael Dixon (4.7)
Nando De Colo (1.3) Steals Howard Sant-Roos (2.1)
Ivan Lazarev (0.9) Blocks Julian Vaughn (0.7)