Barking Abbey, the hosting team of the Barking Abbey Academy Euroleague Basketball Junior Classification Tournament, marched into the semi-finals of the games after a thrilling 66-62 win over BC Khimki Moscow on the last game of Group A on Friday evening in London, England. Both sides marched on the floor knowing the winner will finish second and keep the chance to earn the last ticket to the Nike International Junior Tournament, to be held during the 2010 Euroleague Final Four in Paris, France, yet Barking showed greater determination and earned big support from the local fans to write a last minute come back. Josh Johnson led Barking with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, Raphell Thomas-Edwards added 13 points, Simeon Esprit scored 11 and Teddy Okereafor finished with 10 points. Khimki saw 18 points by Maksim Chislov and 13 by Maxim Sakharov.
Khimki stormed the court from the start and shocked the hosts with a 0-10 lead after less than 2 minutes, enough to hold an 8-16 lead after 10 minutes. Three more minutes without a field goal didn't help Barking to make a come back yet, while Sakharov scored from the arc to set the gap on 13-25. An active rotation coming from the Russian bench kept the players fresh, to pressure the ball and reach close to the break a maximum margin of 20-38. Johnson doubled his points with a hit from the perimeter to set the half time score but Barking had to wait for the break to end to get things going. Johnson and Okereafor connected shots from the three point line, and Esprit slashed to the rim to make it just a 43-48 game with 12 minutes to play. With the hosts breathing down its neck Khimki remained calm and maintained the lead, but when Jesse Chuku beat the shot clock from the corner on a one foot off-balance three pointer to cut the margin to just 2, the fans sensed its time to make the push. Barking locked the rim, and with big pressure on the ball wrote 6 more points in a row, to take a big 61-56 lead inside the last minute of the game. Chislov scored another three pointer in hope to save the day but Esprit and Okereafor were accurate from the line to lock the win in addition to the semi-finals ticket.
Friday, February 19, 2010