Russia’s best basketballer, Andrey Kirilenko, is staying with CSKA Moscow after deciding not to exercise the contract option which allowed him to sign with an NBA club as soon as the lockout finished.
“During this month I considered different options, weighting out all pros and cons, and I came to the conclusion that I should finish this season with CSKA,” Andrey Kirilenko told CSKA’s official website. “We’ve developed great team chemistry, the real team in the first part of the season. It would be inappropriate to stop halfway. It would be unfair toward my teammates and, more importantly, toward fans. I know how many people count on me.”
After leaving NBA side Utah Jazz, Kirilenko signed a three-year contract with the Muscovites before the start of 2011-12 season with opt-outs after the NBA lockout ended or after each season.
“To play for CSKA is a great pleasure and fun, and I will do my best to win all the tournaments we are participating in. I am thankful to club’s management for patience in my difficult situation. Thank you very much to all the fans for their support. Come to our games to cheer for CSKA,” the 30 year-old added.
Kirilenko has appeared in 12 official matches for CSKA before getting an injury in November. In October, he was named Euroleague’s MVP in October and can boast some impressive stats in Europe’s top basketball competition, with an average of 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.2 steals, 3.2 blocked shots per game.
“I think that Andrey’s long-awaited decision is the best New Year gift for all CSKA and Russian fans they could imagine,” Andrey Vatutin, CSKA’s president, commented. “It’s great that we will meet the New Year with such good news. ‘AK-47’ did not just prove that he is the important chain of our team, a tremendously valuable, dedicated player. He showed that he is a true patriot, a man who does not look for quick benefits, who tries to please basketball fans all over the country, to raise our favorite sport’s popularity.”
Kirilenko is set to reunite with CSKA on January 3 as soon as the Army Men’s training camp reopens after the New Year break.