Valencia overpowers Khimki in clash of former champs
In a rematch of the 2012 title game, Valencia Basket sent a message that echoed around the competition by downing Khimki Moscow Region 75-59 at home in Game 1 of their two-leg eighthfinals series on Wednesday. Valencia took a 16-point lead in the series and stopped Khimki's record-breaking Eurocup winning streak at 15 games. Oliver Lafayette led five Valencia scorers in double figures with 16 points. Romain Sato added 15, Rafa Martinez 14, Justin Doellman 11 and Bojan Dubljevic 10. Marko Popovic, Mike Green and James Augustine scored 11 points apiece for Khimki. Valencia outrebounded Khimki 13-3 in the opening 10 minutes and hit 4 of 5 three-pointers, as Martinez, Doellman and a buzzer-beating jumper by Pau Ribas allowed the hosts to get a 28-12 lead after 10 minutes. Khimki improved its defense and Kreso Loncar and Green brought the guests within 32-22. Martinez and Sato boosted Valencia's lead to 36-22 at halftime. Valencia kept rolling after the break and Doellman and Dubljevic gave the hosts a 22-point lead. Egor Vyaltsev and Popovic brought Khimki within 55-42 after three quarters. A rain of three-pointer gave Valencia a 67-44 margin and the hosts managed to stay way ahead until the final buzzer.
Doellman got Valencia going with a five-meter jumper, igniting a 6-0 run that Sato capped with a mid-range shot. Green struck from downtown and fed Mickael Gelabale for a fast break basket, but Doellman and Juanjo Triguero answered with respective layups and a triple by Sato saw the guests call timeout at 13-5. Loncar swished a baseline jumper before Martinez bettered it with a three-pointer. Free throws by Sato gave Valencia its first double-digit lead, 18-7. Popovic fed Augustine for a slam, but a red-hot Martinez answered from downtown for a 21-9 Valencia margin. Sergey Monya joined the three-point shootout, but Dubljevic scored down low. Oliver Lafayette nailed a triple to make it a 14-point edge. a buzzer-beating jumper by Ribas ignited the crowd, 28-12, after 10 minutes. Petteri Koponen scored in penetration early in the second quarter, as Khimki raised its aggressiveness. Loncar followed a slam with a five-meter jumper that gave the guests fresh air at 28-18. Valencia was held scoreless for more than 4four minutes until Doellman banked in a mid-range shot. Valencia kept powering the offensive glass and Ribas finished a two-chance offense with a reverse layup. Augustine scored around the basket and a driving layup by Green caused the hosts to call timeout at 32-22. Martinez hit a technical free throw and found Sato for a triple that fixed the halftime score at 36-22.
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Sato nailed a big triple. Vyaltsev struck from downtown, but back-to-back three-pointers by Doellman and Dubljevic broke the series open, 45-25. Khimki could not find the way to the basket until Green bettered Dubljevic's free throws with a big shot from beyond the arc. Monya also hit a three-pointer, after which Valencia called timeout at 47-31. Sato rescued Valencia with a six-meter jumper that Vyaltsev bettered with another triple. Popovic also struck from downtown to bring Khimki back to life, 49-37, after a 2-12 run. Lafayette nailed consecutive three-pointers, but Augustine and Popovic kept Khimki within 55-42 after three quarters. Dubljevic downed a triple early in the fourth quarter and Martinez copied him right after that to ignite the crowd at 61-42. Lafayette also buried one from beyond the arc - and so did Lubos Barton to boost the hosts' margin to 67-44. After Popovic sank his third triple, Gelabale shined with a fast break layup and a put-back basket by Augustine brought Khimki within 67-51. Green split free throws - Khimki's first foul shot made of the night - but Lafayette gave Valencia a 17-point lead. By the time Martinez rounded out his great game with a driving layup, everything was said and done. Khimki knows it needs a big comeback to get to the quarterfinals and Valencia will try to defend a big lead in its return to the floor where it lost the chance to win the 2012 Eurocup title.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014