DKV Joventut played solid in the second half to obtain a somewhat surprising 23-point win over Khimki on the road on Tuesday afternoon, 73-96 in the opening leg of the teams’ Last 16 series. Led by Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio – the latter posting 15 points and 5 assists in the second half – Joventut jumped ahead and never looked back thanks to 14 triples. Now both teams will meet again next Tuesday in Badalona, Spain, as Joventut will start with a 23-point advantage that gives it solid chances to be in the Final Eight in Turin, Italy, from April 10 to 13. Rudy and Ricky led the winners with 18 points apiece, Lubos Barton added 14 behind 4-of-5 three-point shooting and Jerome Moiso contributed 10. For Khimki, Maciej Lampe led all scorers with 20 points, Dan Ewing added 15 and Mike Wilkinson tallied 13 on 5-of-5 two-point shooting. Khimki controlled the battle for rebounds, 43-33, but Joventut's accuracy and speed in offense allowed the hosts to escape Moscow with a valuable win.
Moiso sent a message to start the game slamming the ball but Kelly McCarty soon scored to get the game going. Ewing soon finished off a transition for an 8-6 Khimki lead as Moiso had scored all the points for Joventut. Lubos Barton and Jan-Hendrick Jagla capped two fast plays to tie the game at 10-10. The defenses pushed hard, but Khimki was shooting better allowing the hosts to stay ahead thanks to Wilkinson's accuracy. Demond Mallet hit his first attempt from beyond the arc and Rudy capped a 0-7 charge to put Joventut ahead, 16-19. Pat Burke stopped the bleeding from underneath and Teemu Rannikko added free throws for a 20-21 Joventut lead at the end of the first quarter. A tough offensive rebound by Pau Ribas launched Joventut again to 20-25, as the visitors’ defense in the paint limited Khimki's offensive attempts. Jagla and Barton added threes to open the quarter with a 0-11 run for Joventut that took the first double-digit lead of the game, 20-31 while Khimki's 0 for 6 from downtown was killing the hosts at this point. Wilkinson finally scored again for Khimki with a 5-meter jumper, but Rubio answered with a three that was promptly replied to by Wilkinson, Ewing and Lampe, who combined on a 10-0 run for 32-34 forcing Joventut head coach Aito Garcia Reneses to call a timeout. Rudy fed Jagla for a dunk to break the burst, but Vitaly Fridzon appeared with a three-point play to put Khimki in control again, 39-38. However still had time to blast a last three to make it 39-41 at the break.
Lampe opened the second half with a difficult basket to tie it again at 41-41, and Wilkinson and McCarty teamed up to make it 45-41, but a 2-11 burst by Joventut including 5 points from Rubio allowed Joventut to jump ahead again, 47-52 forcing a Khimki timeout. Rudy sealed a fastbreak after a steal to make it 47-54, but Ewing did the same to awaken Khinki again. Both teams exchanged baskets, but Joventut's arrived mainly beyond the arc allowing the gusts to increase the lead little by little to 51-61. Ewing was the main option for Khimki now with back-to-back threes to pull the hosts within 59-63. Two lucky baskets, first by Edu Hernandez-Sonseca and then by Rubio, allowed Joventut to add more points to the cushion going into the last quarter, 59-67. Rubio had three more straight baskets to start the last period and lift Joventut to 61-73, but Khimki fought in offense through Lampe in the paint. Joventut, however, still blasted threes non-stop and Barton and Mallet came next to make it 64-79 forcing head coach Kestutis Kemzura to use another Khimki timeout. Lampe was still the only option for Khimki as he fought his way to the basket every time, but a three by Ribas and Jagla's next bucket made it 66-84 for Joventut. The game was decided, but Joventut stepped on the gas to try to get the most possible points to face the second game in Badalona and Rudy hit another three to make it 70-96, but Lampe replied, this time from beyond the arc, to put the final 73-96.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008