We have seen that sometimes Khimki Moscow Region starts a little slowly, but when it gets going, opponents had best beware. Khimki will play in the Eurocup Finals for the third time this season and seek its second title to join fellow giants of the Eurocup Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and Valencia Basket as the only teams to the win the Eurocup on multiple occasions. The trio of teams is also the only one to reach at least three Eurocup Finals. Making suck history was Khimki stated goal as far back as last summer. Two-time Eurocup winning Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis and Khimki, which went out at the hands of eventual champion Valencia in last season’s eighthfinals, brought back the core of last season’s team, which only lost two games all season. Guards Petteri Koponen and Marko Popovic, forward Sergei Monia and James Augustine and center Paul Davis were all handed major roles. To that roster the team added Euroleague Final Four MVP Tyrese Rice and Tyler Honeycutt, while center Ruslan Pateev, who only played two games last season, emerged as a threat in the middle. After winning big on opening night against VEF Riga and scoring a tough road win at Union Olimpija Ljubljana, Khimki dropped two of three games – at Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul and Zenit St Petersburg – to slip to third place in Regular Season Group D. Khimki not only won its next five games to finish atop the group, but its average margin of victory in those games was 15 points!
The pattern continued in the Last 32; after dropping the opener at FoxTown Cantu 99-88, Khimki won five straight with an almost identical margin of victory (14.8) to win Group G with a 5-1 record. The eighthfinals opponent was the same Zenit that beat Khimki in the regular season. Khimki eked out an 84-86 victory in Game behind 22 points and 6 assists from Rice, but Koponen starred with 24 in Game 2 for an 89-70 victory and a series sweep. The quarterfinals foe was the same team that ended Khimki’s 2013-14 campaign, Valencia. Rice scored 27 in a tough 75-76 road win in the opener and then tallied 18 points and 10 assists in a 76-71 Game 2 win to reach the semis. The new opponent, Banvit Bandirma, ended Khimki’s winning streak at nine games with an 83-82 Game 1 triumph. But with a ticket to the finals at stake, Khimki enjoyed 28 more points from Rice to snatch a 93-89 victory to win the series and a spot in the finals. Khimki now stands before its toughest test, Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas, but its roadmap to greatness is clear: Khimki is unbeaten at home, and gets better against every opponent as the series goes on. If Khimki can do that once more, it will be planning a return to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague for the 2015-16 season.