By Johannes Berendt
MOSCOW, Oct. 4 -- How do you say "Hatfield and McCoy" in Russian?
No matter, all you need to know is that before the Clippers take on BC Khimki on Oct. 6 and CSKA Moscow on Oct. 7, Khimki and CSKA will face each other on Oct. 5. Though Khimki has been around for a mere decade, it hasn't taken them long to form a rivalry with CSKA, one of the most successful European teams in history. Speaking of history, check out our thumbnail sketches of each team.
CSKA Moscow Profile
Love them or hate them - CSKA Moscow has been the undisputed number one in Russian basketball for ages. For over five decades, the Central Sports Army Club have been the team to beat in their country. The "Red Army" completed the domestic treble last season, winning the league championship following a sweep over BC Khimki in the finals. They also saw off their up-and-coming city rivals in the Cup Final. Most notably, they brought home the European crown for the first time in 35 years after by beating Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv 73-69 in the title game.
Let the stats speak for themselves:
CSKA has five European crowns to its name (1961, 1963, 1969, 1971, 2006)
They won 37 domestic titles in the highly-competitive former Soviet Union and Russia
They won all nine Russian league titles between 1992 and 2000 and all four from 2003-2006
They also made the Euroleague Final Four five times in the last decade, including the last four times
Their best player is arguably tall point guard Theo Papaloukas. The Greek international (Remember what he did to Team USA in the semi-finals in Japan?) is the heart and the soul of his team despite coming off the bench. Center David Anderson, who is back from a broken leg and Guard Matjaz Smodis are the other stand-outs.
CSKA's roster also features Pittsburgh native J. R. Holden, who now holds Russian citizenship and former NBA player Trajan Langdon. The guard averaged 5.4 points in 119 games for the Cavs between 1999 and 2002. Forward David Vanterpool appeared in 22 games for the Washington Wizards during the 2001-02 season (3 PPG).
In honor of Russian basketball legend Alexander Yakolevich Gomelsky, who passed away in August 2005, a memorial plaque will be unveiled during the course of NBA Europe Live to remember the accomplishments of the former CSKA coach and president.
BC Khimki Profile
For a club that was founded less than 10 years ago (1997), BC Khimki has tasted some early success. They have wasted no time to establish themselves in the top Russian league. Last year, they finished second only to cross-town rivals CSKA in the league and Cup. They also reached the final of the FIBA EuroCup, falling 88-63 to DKV Joventut.
Friday´s fixture will be their first clash with an NBA team. They will certainly turn to their four former NBA players to get the inside scoop on the Clippers. Guard Melvin Booker played for Houston, Denver and Washington, center Pavel Podkolzin logged six games for Dallas between 2004 and 2006 and Ruben Wolkowisky also appeared in 41 games for Seattle in 2000-01. And then there´s Oscar Torres, who averaged 6.0 points for the Rockets during the 2001-02 season and also played for Golden State.
Naturally, there's a strong rivalry between Khimki and CSKA, which should make Thursday's clash in the Universal Sports Hall an entertaining affair. This season won't be the same, however, as captain and national team forward Alexander Petrenko tragically died in a road accident in July.