Returning CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina has vowed to heal the psychological wounds from the team’s defeat in the final of last season’s Euroleague.
CSKA was the clear favorite before May’s final with Greek team Olympiacos and led by 19 points with 12 minutes remaining before collapsing in the final quarter to go down to a 62-61 defeat.
“I am new, so if maybe some of my players or somebody here will still be thinking about last year, I help them to forget and to focus on the next season,” Messina said in an interview to R-Sport.
“Myself, the players the club, everybody will make 101 percent effort to be in the Final Four.”
The Italian won the Euroleague twice with CSKA in his first spell with the team between 2005 and 2009, adding those successes to two earlier titles with Virtus Bologna, and said the team’s current situation mirrored his earlier experiences.
“The first time I came to coach CSKA, was after the Final Four in Moscow, when the team had lost the semifinal after basically winning all the games that year,” he said.
“I remember when we started the season, the first game of the Euroleague, there was a lot of, let’s say, holding back over what happened two or three months before.”
CSKA won the Euroleague in Messina’s first season in charge.
Messina spent last season on Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown’s staff and said he would bring NBA expertise to Russia.
“It was a very interesting season in terms of seeing how they relate to the players in the NBA, the relationships between coaches and players, how they organize their practice time, how they prepare the scouting of the opponents, how they a handle a special situation during the game, for example last-second shot, offense after timeout, defenses after timeout,” he said.
CSKA is a 19-time Russian champion and twice winner of Eastern Europe’s regional VTB United League, which will determine the Russian champion for the first time this season.