by George Rowland, in Milano / @georgerowland
1. Everyone likes watching a car crash
The last two years CSKA have come in to the Final Four as overwhelming favourites, and both times they have failed in two very different, but still very catastrophic ways. With everyone knowing their propensity to choke, we’re all watching this CSKA team with the anticipation that at any point the wheels could fall off like in Istanbul and London. On the other hand, we’re all expecting CSKA to crash and burn, and without the burden of expectation it could allow them to relax and play their best basketball.
2. It could be the last time for a while we see an old fashioned post battle
Both Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Nenad Krstic are rarities in Euroleague, as guys who like to play with their backs to the basket and use their sheer mass combined with their array of post moves to score. While both have their flaws elsewhere in their games this could be one of the few times we see two players of this style meet, as they are a dying breed in the era of pick and roll heavy sets and super athletic defensive centres.
3. In more ways than one it’s a David vs Goliath battle
In the Old Testament, Goliath, a giant Philistine warrior, was slain by David, the future King of Israel. This is reflective of this match up in more ways than one. Firstly on sheer size CSKA are Goliath, with an average height of 200cm in their rotation they are significantly bigger than Maccabi who measure up at 197, which may not seem much, but will make a significant difference when spread across the entire rotation. Furthermore certain historians of religion have interpreted the victory of David over Goliath as symbolic of the Judeo-Christian victory over paganism, the victory of the old over the new. CSKA are very much symbolic of the old way of basketball whereas Maccabi are symbolic of the new.
4. Maccabi’s fans
We’ve all heard about the Final Four selling out within hours of Maccabi’s series win over Milano, so we know there will be a strong yellow and blue presence in the arena, and if the noise levels are anything like Nokia Arena then it should make for quite an experience. Along with those who have bought their tickets, there are some fans who have travelled without a ticket, hoping to beg, borrow or steal their way into the Mediolanum Forum tomorrow.
5. The end for Messina?
With rumours abounding about his imminent departure to the NBA, this could be the last we see of Ettore Messina in Europe, and while this year’s CSKA team aren’t exactly his most aesthetic team, they still play a way that you don’t really see across Europe. With a chance to leave on a high we should relish the chance to see a Messina team live while we still can.