Khimki seizes homecourt advantage in elimination rounds!
Previously-qualified Khimki Moscow Region assured itself of homecourt advantage through the elimination rounds, all the way up to and including the Eurocup Finals, when it blasted host Maccabi Haifa Bazan from the competition with a 66-86 road win on Wednesday. Haifa was eliminated with a 2-4 record even before a possible tie for second place with CEZ Nymburk because it lost by more points in the home wins they split earlier in Group K. Khimki extended its Eurocup-record winning streak to 15 games, but more importantly finished the Last 32 with a 6-0 record in Group K. That is better than any other group winner, therefore Khimki will enjoy homecourt advantage in any and all of the two-game series that will finish the rest of the Eurocup season. Khimki showed its prowess at both ends by scoring 34 points in the first quarter and holding Haifa to 10 in the second to lead 28-56 at halftime. Sergey Monya had hit made 5 of 7 three-pointers for 17 points by then, his total for the game. Petteri Koponen led the winners with 19 points, while Mike Green added 13 and Kresimir Loncar 11. Khimki made 13 of its 27 three-point tries as compared to 3 of 15 for Haifa. Dagan Yivzori came off the bench to lead Haifa with 19 points, while Brian Randle had 15, Donta Smith 11 and Ido Kozikaro 10.
Khimki opened the game with Egor Vyaltsev's shot from the arc and quickly built a 4-11 edge as Monia copied him twice. Kozikaro and Smith kept Haifa within 8-14, but Khimki was ready to finish the first quarter with a scoring frenzy of 20 points in 5 minutes, ending with more three-pointers by Monia and Benjamin-Pavel Dudu to lead 18-34. Koponen joined the fun with 2 triples in a row to open the second quarter before Khimki's defense took the stage, holding Haifa to 3 points through 7 minutes. The visitors' lead ballooned to a high of 27 points before they settled for doubling Haifa on the scoreboard, 28-56, at halftime.
Haifa sought to turn the tables with an 11-0 run, including 5 points by Yivzori, to open the second half by getting within 39-56. Koponen and Marko Popovic steadied Khimki then until the former could restore a 23-point advantage on free throws to end the third quarter at 47-70. Koponen's triple to start the fourth quarter brought the lead back to 26. Again, Haifa at least matched Khimki's output but couldn't fill much of the huge hole it had dug in the first half, and so got no closer than 64-82 after 5 more points in a row by Yivzori. But it was all too little too late as Khimki looked ahead to playing the second games of any future series on its homecourt thanks to its 15th straight Eurocup win!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014