Our team went to a difficult double-header with the first game at Kazan, second one at Nizhny Novgorod...
Cruising Volga River

The mindset for a champion is different

Previously, this slogan was felt by CSKA players and coaches for many years. Now it’s the turn of others - first Zenit, now UNICS. At the start of the season, the Kazan team, which retained its head coach, core of leaders and even, perhaps, strengthened (the acquisitions of Ismael Bako, Eric Green and Dmitry Kulagin became a solid plus in the rotation), not everything is easy. The Kazan team already has two defeats that fall into the category of unexpected - from Samara and Runa, and among the victories only the defeat of Minsk can be classified as easy.

These facts, however, do not allow one to be deceived about the real strength of the team. The system works, the former leaders are in good shape. Jalen Reynolds shines again, averaging 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 22.5 minutes on the floor, 2023 finals MVP Nenad Dimitrijevic directs the team with 16.0 points and 7.0 assists, Marcos Knight, signed during the last season, is productive with 15.9 points.

“A meeting with the reigning champion is a good indicator of what we have done up to this stage of the season, what should be done as the next step of the team’s progress,” says CSKA head coach Emil Rajkovic. “UNICS kept its core, they remain a very powerful opponent, one of the favorites to win the title. They have probably the strongest frontline in the league, they have great creators, they play tough defense. Last season both games in Kazan ended up in overtimes, so it is always interesting to play there. We are preparing very seriously to show our best basketball and try to take the win in the difficult away game.”

With big bags

In the last playoffs, the teams went separate ways. Just like in the VTB League Supercup, and throughout the entire preseason. So the previous meeting between Muscovites and Kazan side dates back to the beginning of March, and since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Therefore, it will be especially interesting to evaluate the status quo.

The red-blues got a full day off the day after the victory over Runa and continued to prepare at their own base in Krylatskoye. The team left for Kazan on Wednesday morning on an Aeroflot charter, packing large bags - they won’t have to return home after the game, CSKA will immediately move to Nizhny Novgorod, where they will play on Sunday.

Tony Jekiri took center stage. The center, who played for UNICS the season before last, seemed sincerely surprised by both the strong frost and the fresh snow, and therefore, naturally, became the object of numerous jokes from his comrades.

Past matchups

Wins-losses: 85-24

CSKA biggest margin of victory: 102-54 (+48) (1997-98 Russian Championship. Quarterfinal)
UNICS biggest margin of victory: 113-77 (-36) (2000-01 Russian Superleague. Regular season. 2nd stage)

Games of 2022-23 VTB League Season:

10-Nov-2022. 1st stage. CSKA – UNICS: 92-79 (+13)
04-Dec-2022. 1st stage. UNICS – CSKA: 93-95 OT (+2)
15-Feb-2023. 2nd stage. UNICS – CSKA: 112-104 OT (-8)
02-Mar-2023. 2nd stage. ЦСКА – УНИКС: 91-77 (+14)

Brief dossier


Founded: 1991
Color: green, black, white
Home court: Basket Hall (7,500)
President: Evgeny Bogachev
Head coach: Velimir Perasovic
Website: www.unics.ru
Trophy case:
- EuroCup winner (2011);
- FIBA Europe League winner (2004);
- VTB League and Russian champion (2023);
- 8-time Russian League runner-up (2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2021),
- 7-time Russian League bronze winner (2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2022),
- NEBL champion (2003),
- 3-time Russian Cup winner (2003, 2009, 2014),
- 3-Russian Cup runner-up (2005, 2007, 2010),
- 3-time VTB United League runner-up (2010, 2012, 2016, 2021)


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