Andrey Kirilenko:
I enjoy this season


The first playoffs matches of the League will be on Sunday. And the prize of the «Most Valuable Player» of the regular season, just as it was expected, got  Andrey Kirilenko - the star forward of CSKA, who is a real candidate for the same title in the Euroleague too.

When determining the MVP of the third season in the history of the League a lot of factors were taken into account and the question poll for the fans was very important, which came to an end on the official tournament website on April 2. As a result the first place took the center of Lietuvos Rytas Jonas Valanciunas, and Kirilenko got only the third place. Still, the Army superstar gained the final score which was more than his two closest pursuers.

Opinion of the experts of VTB United League and Sport-Express, who put Kirilenko in their questionnaires in the first place, became crucial. So AK-47 was the best (he got into the symbolic five of the month four times). Such a stable season Kirilenko did not have for a long time. In Euroleague-2011/12 alone he managed to collect five different MVP titles! This is despite the fatigue after the Bronze Eurobasket-2011, where he was rightly included in the symbolic five.

- Are you mixed up in your various individual titles? – The question to the 3-rd MVP in the history of VTB United League (we remind that in the previous two seasons the winners were CSKA forward Victor Khryapa and guard of Azovmash Ramel Curry).
- This year the situation is that I am not interested - in what tournament we play, at what stage ... - said the MVP of VTB United League-2011/12 Andrey Kirilenko. - I go to the court and enjoy every minute. Perhaps that's what comes with my age. At the same time I feel a great responsibility for the results of CSKA. We have to win every game - regardless of the strength of the opponent, the match status and other factors. So I do not distinguish games and tournaments between important and not very important. The same is about the individual titles. Any appreciation of professional merit is pleasant.

- Who, in your opinion, is the main opponent of CSKA in VTB United League?
- Sure, Khimki. Also - both Lithuanian team Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas. All three clubs meet the level of Euroleague. Among other opponent should be noted Spartak, which this season shows a very interesting basketball. UNICS, of course, is also a dangerous competitor. The only thing is that Kazan club played great in the Euroleague, but on the inside arena they have serious problems.

- Why do you think not just UNICS, but Spartak and Lokomotiv-Kuban play is much weaker in the Russian championship than in the Euroleague and in the European Cup?
- As for UNICS, they face problems because of their short bench. There are good players, but their average age is quite high. Therefore, it difficult for them to fight in several tournaments. After excellent game in Euroleague UNICS in a few days lost to some young team such as Triumph. But the problems of Spartak and Lokomotiv are hard to explain. But these teams have qualified coaches - let them think. And I have to think about CSKA.

- What did you learn from this season in Europe in terms of game, everyday and human aspects?
- Well, «taught» – is too big word. As I said, from this season I get pleasure. To every game I come with a good mood. In the NBA it is a bit different. Of course, there I also prepare for each match. But still somewhere in the depths of my subconscious I think- even if we lose, do not worry, it is a «regular season» with 82 matches. And here I always play in front of my friends and relatives, plus the value of each meeting is more important. Well, the current schedule - two games in a week – is much easier than the American, when, after an intense schedule you think: «When will this end»? Although, of course, it is pleasant to play in Salt Lake City, there are wonderful fans there.

- The Army club got into the Final Four of Euroleague, beating in the quarter finals the Spanish Bilbao. Moreover, CSKA won the last game, first of all, thanks to you. You not only played brilliantly in the defense and made the winning rebound in the last seconds, but also attacked the ring. Do you have any pre-game premonition that today is your game?
- No, the feeling of throw comes - or does not come - after only a few starting minutes. You can score a hundred of a hundred during warm-up - and fail in the game. And vice-versa. So it all depends on how successful are the first two or three shots. That is why in the first minutes I try to attack from under the ring mostly.

- In your club career there was one Euroleague Final Four - in 2001 in Paris. Then in the semi-final CSKA played against the Israeli Maccabi, the team took the lead but eventually was defeated - 80:86. And you played in that game for 37 minutes, scored 23 points and made 11 rebounds. Do you remember?
- Just remember that we were throwing-throwing three-pointers - and could not score (the army team realized five of 30 distant shots. - Approx. Author) ... We had a good chance to get into the finals.

- And when is it easier to be the leader of CSKA in the Final Four – when you are 20, or now, at 31, when you have 10 years experience in the NBA and have the title of MVP of the European championship?
- Of course, right now. It should be taken into account that the present Army team – is much stronger than CSKA, which was 11 years ago.

- Do you follow the NBA matches?
- Of course. Favorites – are always the same. Although Oklahoma City Thunder stand out against a background of all other teams. Well, and Chicago looks good.

- Are you going to return to the NBA At the end of the season-2011/12?

- It too early to discuss it now. Many publications write that I have already made a decision. I can say that it is not true. I will carefully explore all possible options in summer. Still, my age does not allow me to take the first offers from overseas. The final choice will depend on many factors.