Terrific Twelve: Teodosic, Langford, Karasev And Other Playoff Stars

VTB-League.com brings you an inside look at the 12 biggest stars of the 2015-16 postseason. When the pressure turned up, these 12 men were able to respond, elevating their game with everything on the line.

Janis Timma, Zenit forward

The 2014-15 VTB United League Young Player of the Year continued to progress in 2015-16, reaching a new level in the playoffs. Timma was brilliant in the quarterfinals vs. Avtodor, averaging 23.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a 30.0 efficiency rating to help Zenit to the surprising sweep. His Game 2 performance sent shockwaves through the league: 35 points and 15 rebounds, both new VTB United League playoff records.

Limited by pain in the semifinals vs. UNICS, Timma continued to battle despite a leg injury in Game 2 and back injury in Game 3. He was forced to miss Game 4, but returned for the decisive Game 5. Unfortunately, Timma wasn't able to play at his typical high level, perhaps costing Zenit the win. Nonetheless, he created a big stir in the postseason and had a big role in Zenit's run to the semifinals.

Tyrese Rice, Khimki point guard

Khimki did not advance to the finals as hoped and will likely have bad memories of the 2016 postseason. But Rice's performance in the quarterfinals vs. Lokomotiv-Kuban shouldn't be forgotten. Playing against the Euroleague Final Four participants, Rice exploded for 28.3 points, 5.3 assists and a 31.0 efficiency rating. In Game 2, Rice matched Timma's postseason points record (35). He finished with a league-best 22.7 points per game in the postseason and provided the biggest highlights in Khimki's truncated playoff run.

Ryan Toolson, Zenit guard

Voted regular season MVP by the fans, Toolson proved his value to the club in the playoffs. Toolson was the best player on the court in Zenit's hard-fought Game 1 win vs. Avtodor. He was overshadowed by Timma the rest of the series, but Zenit needed him against UNICS. An injury in Game 1 meant the American sniper had to miss Game 2 and watch his team drop into a 2-0 hole.

Toolson made a triumphant return. Averaging more than 30 minutes per game, Toolson guided St. Petersburg to back-to-back wins at home and did everything he could in Game 5 to deliver a series win, scoring 32 points and drawing seven fouls. Zenit came up a little short, but the club immediately gave Toolson a contract extension following the conclusion of the season.

Evgeny Pashutin, UNICS head coach

The VTB United League's all-time leader in postseason wins (24) has always relied on his tested leaders and aggressive, physical defense. That strategy helped UNICS to a 2nd-place finish in the regular season and playoff success, but the short bench began to show its limitations in the latter stages of the postseason.

Pashutin, however, was able to adapt, demonstrating an ability to experiment, mix up the roster and deliver results in the clutch. Pashutin knew just what buttons to push to surprise his opponents and shift the momentum in a game. Given opportunities, role players like Artsiom Parakhouski, Vadim Panin and Arturas Milaknis took advantage.

Quino Colom, UNICS point guard

Colom had his biggest impact in the semifinals vs. Zenit, the most competitive and unpredictable series of the 2016 postseason. The Spanish playmaker eclipsed even Keith Langford in the series, averaging 23.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.8 steals and a 23.4 efficiency rating to earn the semifinals MVP award. He was also the author of the playoff's most memorable moment, capping Kazan's 18-point comeback in Game 1 with a game-winning basket and foul  in the final seconds.

Dimitris Itoudis, CSKA head coach

The reigning champs and top-seeded CSKA were the playoff favorites, but the coaching staff had a lot to overcome in order to live up to expectations. CSKA had only a few days between a triumphant, but exhausting Euroleague Final Four and the semifinals vs. Khimki. The team also had to play without Joel Freeland and lost Cory Higgins and Nikita Kurbanov during the course of the series.

Itoudis responded by giving Milos Teodosic an increased role on offense and turning to Vitaly Fridzon and Pavel Korobkov. Everything worked. Itoudis was able to motivate his men and properly allocate his resources, compensating for fatigue and the various injuries. Despite the many difficulties, the Army Men lost only one game in the postseason to defend the title.

Nando De Colo, CSKA guard

After expending an enormous amount of energy in European competition, De Colo made sure to pace himself in the league playoffs, saving his best for crunch-time. Coming off a Euroleague MVP award, De Colo was often the focus of the opposing defense, but refused to let it get to him. He drew 52 fouls in the postseason (2nd behind Keith Langford), provided a reliable source of points and made it easier for his teammates to do damage on the offensive end. Considered by many Europe's top player in the 2015-16 season, De Colo capped his impressive campaign by scoring six points down the stretch against UNICS in Game 4 to deliver the title to CSKA.

Vasily Karasev, Zenit head coach

Zenit lost several of its best players to injury over the course of the season, constantly searching for replacements and alternatives. Despite an uneven schedule and difficulty with the roster, St. Petersburg was able to finish in 3rd place and Karasev was named Coach of the Year. The energetic boss also made sure his team was able to peak during the final month of the season.

Zenit steamrolled 6th-seeded Avtodor in the first round, advancing to the semifinals to face UNICS. Trailing 2-0 after a pair of losses in Kazan, St. Petersburg bounced back in St. Petersburg, forcing a Game 5. Despite failing to make the finals, Zenit enjoyed a record-setting season and should feel very confident about the man in charge.

Kyle Hines, CSKA center

Despite rarely being in the limelight, CSKA's American big man had a huge role in the team's success. With other members of the frontcourt dealing with injuries (Joel Freeland, Nikita Kurbanov, Cory Higgins), the 2015-16 Defensive Player of the Year had a huge presence under the basket and did the biggest volume of dirty work on the team. In charge of anchoring the defense, Hines also contributed on offense, creating a deadly pick-and-roll with Milos Teodosic. Hines finished 3rd on the team in postseason scoring (11.1 points) and 2nd in efficiency (15.7).

Viktor Khryapa, CSKA forward

The Army Men's captain twice broke his hand during the season, but returned to give his team an emotional boost. The losses of Nikita Kurbanov and Cory Higgins, as strange as it may sound, had very little impact thanks to Khryapa's impressive return. In a crucial Game 2 vs. UNICS, the Russian forward shot a perfect 7-7 from the field to score 19 points in 30 minutes and give CSKA the win. Khryapa's resurgence was one of the main storylines of the 2016 postseason.

Keith Langford, UNICS guard

The regular season's top scorer improved on his average in the postseason (21.9), trailing only Khimki's Tyrese Rice. The first-round sweep of Nizhny Novgorod wasn't easy and much of the credit goes to Langford. He delivered in critical moments, helping UNICS advance in three games. He also came through in the semifinals vs. Zenit, teaming up with Colom to break down St. Petersburg's resistance. Langford saved his best for last, scoring 29 points in Game 3 vs. CSKA to deal the Army Men their only loss of the postseason. He was locked in throughout the postseason, ultimately returning UNICS to the Euroleague and earning a silver medal in the VTB United League.

Milos Teodosic, CSKA point guard

Basketball is turning into a game for the little guy! Golden State stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have taken the NBA by storm, while Teodosic and De Colo are turning heads in Europe. The Frenchman was top dog in the Euroleague and Teodosic led the way in the VTB United League playoffs. Given frontcourt injuries, the Army Men were especially reliant on the backcourt during the playoffs. Teodosic did it all, contributing on defense, scoring, running the pick-and-roll and dishing out assists. Most importantly, Teodosic was an emotional leader, finishing with 15.0 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds, guiding his team to yet another championship and VTB United League playoff MVP.