Ribas hits a series-winner, Valencia eliminates Khimki
Valencia Basket suffered it largest loss in Eurocup this season, a 97-82 eighthfinals Game 2 decision on the road against Khimki Moscow Region, but it was enough for the Spanish side to progresses to the Eurocup Quarterfinals thanks to a jumper from Pau Ribas with 9.2 seconds to go, that gave it 156-157 series victory. Valencia will play Alba Berlin in the quarterfinals, in a rematch of 2010 Eurocup title game. Khimki led from start to finish, with baskets from James Augustine, Marko Popovic and Kresimir Loncar mostly keeping the lead in the double-digits. The hosts finally broke the magic 16-point barrier with under 3 minutes to go, as Loncar extended it to 95-74 advantage, which translated into 154-149 aggregate score. However, Oliver Lafayette hit a key triple, and Ribas sank a series-winning jumper that sent Valencia through to the next phase despite a loss. Bojan Dubljevic paced Valencia with 23, and Lafayette netted 19. Romain Sato chipped in with 13 points plus 8 rebounds, while Ribas finished with 10 points for the visitors. Augustine collected 20 points plus 7 rebounds, and Popovic also scored 20 points for Khimki. Loncar had 15 points, Mike Green scored 13 points with 8 assists, Petteri Koponen also scored 13, while Egor Vyaltsev netted 12 for the hosts.
Khimki stormed out of the gate with a 9-0 run in the first 2 minutes - Loncar scored twice, Koponen hit a triple, and Vyatlsev scored a fastbreak dunk – cutting the series deficit to only 7 points right away. Justin Doellman hit a baseline jumper to open Valencia's account, before the visitors used offensive rebounding from Sato, that led to his pair of big dunks, to close within 11-9. Popovic came off the bench and immediately sank a three-pointer, and a put-back from Augustine helped Khimki stay with the lead, but Valencia replied with another put-back from Sato, and a triple from Laffayette, cutting the deficit to a single point, 21-20. However, Popovic closed the quarter with back-to-back threes for 27-20 (86-95 on aggregate), and Augustine strung together 7 points at the start of the second, before Vyaltsev burying a triple for 37-24, advantage that translated to only a 3-point series deficit. Led by Doellman, Valencia answered with a 0-8 run, briefly stopping the hosts' momentum. Green and Popovic each hit a three-pointer to get Khimki back to a double-digit lead, 45-34, but Lafayette inside and Dubljevic from long range helped Valencia cut it to 47-39 halftime score, meaning the visitors still held half of their 16-point margin from Game 1.
Vyaltsev and Green hit back-to-back triples at the start of the third quarter, and Loncar got a lucky roll on a jumper for a 14-point lead, 57-43, and an aggregate score 116-118. Pau Ribas answered with back-to-back three-pointers in a span of 30 seconds, but Augustine and Popovic extended the margin back to 14 points from the foul line, 63-49. Before quarter's end, Lafayette scored three baskets from close range, and Dubljevic nailed one from the distance, but a jumper from Popovic in the last seconds made it 69-59, on aggregate 128-134 going into the fourth quarter. A triple and an uncontested layup from Dubljevic got Valencia as close as 69-64, but Koponen hit back-to-back three-pointers, and Popovic scored a fastbreak layup for 77-64. With the series margin only at 3 points again, Sato and Sam Van Rossom hit triples to make it 79-70, giving Valencia more breathing room. But the drama was only starting. Popovic, Koponen and Loncar hitting jumpers on consecutive possession for 92-74, as the hosts finally broke the magic 16-point barrier with 2 minutes to go, and took the series lead 151-149. After a timeout, Loncar scored a basket-plus-free throw for 95-74, capping an 11-0 run. However, Dubljevic scored from close range and Lafayyere hit a triple 37 seconds before the end to get Valencia back to a 15-point deficit, 95-80 (on aggregate 154-155). On the ensuing possession, Green put Khimki's lead back to 17 points with a layup, but he missed the additional free throw. Valencia had a final possession, and Ribas nailed a mid-range jumper with 9.2 seconds left. In the remaining time ball went to Popovic, who took and missed difficult off-balance jumper at the buzzer, prompting huge celebration from the visitors.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014