B.C. Khimki Moscow Region has made it to the Eurocup finals!
Khimki managed to make it to the title game for the second time in club history by edging Spartak St. Petersburg 77-73 in the second semifinal on Saturday night. Khimki now has the chance to battle for its first Eurocup title against two-time champion Valencia Basket. The winner will also earn the right to play in the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Spartak will try to bounce back right away in the third place game against Lietuvos Rytas. Vitaliy Frizon led the winners with 16 points. Kresimir Loncar added 13 and 9 rebounds, Zoran Planinic had 12 points while Thomas Kelati got 10 for Khimki. Patrick Beverley and Yotam Halperin led Spartak with 15 points apiece. Valery Likhodey added 12 while Vladimir Dragicevic got 10 for Spartak. Planinic and Kelati shined early to give Khimki a 27-14 margin after 10 minutes. Khimki still led 39-26 late in the second quarter but Likhodey and Beverley allowed Spartak to get within 42-38 at halftime. Spartak kept rolling after the break, as an outstanding Halperin and three-pointers by Vasily Zavourev, Beverley and Likhodey gave their team a 56-66 margin. Fridzon and Sergey Monya fueled the hosts' comeback but a jumper by Dragicevic tied it, 73-73, in the next-to-last minute. Free throws by Loncar and Planinic and a big block by Fridzon allowed Khimki to make it to the title game.
Beverley got Spartak going with a six-meter jumper that Planinic erased with a driving layup. Monya struck from downtown, as Spartak struggled to get Beverley and Halperin involved. Meanwhile, a three-point play by Planinic boosted his team's lead to 8-2. Dragicevic scored around the basket and a corner three-pointer by Halperin got Spartak within 8-7. Kelati stepped up with a driving layup but an uncontested slam by Beverley kept his team as close as 10-9. Loncar shined with a power layup, as Spartak struggled to adjust its defense late in the first quarter. Khimki kept running its offense through Loncar, who fed Fridzon for an open triple, making Spartak call timeout at 15-9. Planinic scored in the low post but Dragicevic matched that with a jump hook and Halperin struck from downtown for a 17-14 Spartak deficit. A long jumper by Matt Nielsen and an acrobatic three-point play by Fridzon soon made it an eight-point game, 22-14. Kelati followed a fast break layup with a corner triple to cap a 10-0 run and give Khimki a 27-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Dragicevic tried to ignite Spartak's comeback with a tip-in early in the second quarter, as Nikola Dragovic stepped on court for the first time in this Eurocup season. Chris Quinn swished a corner triple but Khimki struggled to find open shots now. Miha Zupan scored around the basket but Mickael Gelabale buried a five-meter jumper for a 32-18 Khimki lead. Aleksey Zozulin buried a wide open three-pointer in transition and a fast break layup by Zupan forced Khimki to call timeout at 32-23. Beverley took over with a three-pointer but Spartak had entered the foul bonus and Khimki took advantage of that. Planinic and Loncar made free throws to make Khimki restore a double-digit lead, 39-26. Anatoly Kashirov shined with a tip-in and a three-pointer by Likhodey gave Spartak some hope at 39-31. Khimki kept struggling to score but kept playing aggressive to go to the foul line often. Gelabale split free throws but Viktor Keyru joined the three-point shootout for a 40-34 Spartak deficit. Aleksey Zhukanenko shined with a put-back slam but Likhodey followed free throws with a triple to keep Spartak within 42-38 at halftime.
Beverley buried a three-pointer immediately after the break but Loncar answered with a turnaround jumper in the lane. Halperin sank a big triple that tied the game, 44-44. Spartak kept playing physical on defense and a layup by Keyru gave his team its first lead, 44-46. Loncar tried to change things with a put-back basket that Dragicevic matched with a baseline jumper. Fridzon quickly answered from downtown to put Khimki back ahead, 49-48. Halperin kept pacing Spartak with a wild layup-plus-foul and free throws by Beverley gave his team some fresh air, 49-53. Quinn shined with a one-handed floater that Zozulin erased with foul shots. Spartak stayed aggressive on defense and finding open shots. Likhodey stepped up with a put-back basket that Egor Vyaltsev improved with a bomb from downtown to keep Khimki within 54-57. Loncar made free throws but a three-pointer by Zavourev gave Spartak a 56-60 margin after 30 minutes.
Beverley nailed a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter but picked up his fourth foul right after that. Likhodey downed another one from beyond the arc to make it a double-digit game, 56-66. Kelati stepped up with a corner triple and Vyatlsev added a long two-pointer in transition that to force Spartak to call timeout, 61-66, with 7 minutes to go. Monya buried another one from downtown to cap a 9-0 Khimki run, turning the game into a thriller. Loukas Mavrokefalidis hit a jump hook but Monya struck again from beyond the three-point line and free throws by Fridzon completed Khimki's comeback, 69-68. Halperin provided a highlight with a catch-and-shoot triple but Fridzon answered from downtown for a 72-71 score. Spartak struggled to score right when it mattered and a free throw by Fridzon gave Khimki a 73-71 edge with 2 minutes left. Dragicevic took over with a critical basket and Loncar split free throws for a 74-73 edge. Dragicevic missed the go-ahead shot and Spartak fouled on Planinic, who made 1-of-2 attempts with 26.4 seconds left. Monya collected a key steal and Planinic returned to the foul line, but missed his second attempt. Spartak had a chance to tie the game but Fridzon blocked Kashirov's three-point shot to seal the win in style.
Saturday, April 14, 2012