VTB United League
Khimki (Russia) defeated Neptunas (Lithuania) at home, 73-56, in Week 3 of the regular season. The home team controlled the pace throughout the game to secure its third straight win to open the season.
Khimki is off to a perfect start in the VTB United League. Rimas Kurtinaitis’s men needed to defeat the third-best team in Lithuania to keep pace at the top of Group B. Neptunas, despite its underdog role, arrived in Khimki in search of its first win.
The Russian fans enjoyed the score at the end of the first quarter, if not so much their team’s play. Khimki was lazy running the offense and committed untypical turnovers. But on defense Khimki was at its best. Neptunas hit just one two-point field goal in the first 10 minutes, though a 3-pointer from Sinica and Martynas Mazeika’s free throws prevented the team from setting a new League low. Khimki led, 15-7, entering the second.
The visitors appeared seemingly content with the score. Hardly any of the Neptunas players battled for offensive rebounds and Mazeika and Vasylius struggled to get the offense going. Once again, Neptunas would connect on just one two-point field goal in the period. Mickael Gelabale stood out for Khimki – his 10 points at halftime led all scorers, and his driving layups helped his club increase its lead. The teams headed to the locker rooms with the score 35-19.
Neptunas, despite its significant deficit, didn’t quit. After giving up eight unanswered points to start the half, the visitors picked up the pace and finally started scoring. Mazeika got into the paint, while Sinica used multiple screens to get free on the perimeter. Two 3-pointers from Girdziunas and MacClure to close the period pulled the visitors within 12, 52-40.
But there was to be no miracle. The trio of Gelabale, Vyaltsev and Koponen took control of the game, pouring in 3-pointers to end Neptunas’s hopes. Neither Kazys Maksyvtis nor Justas Sinica, who played well, could do anything about it. As a result, Kurtinaitis’s men walked off 73-56 winners, their 3rd victory of the season to match CSKA.
Star of the Game
Mickael Gelabale. The French forward did most of his damage in the paint, coupled with two 3-pointers. Along with solid rebounding, he recorded 18 points and a 25 efficiency rating.
Stat of the Game
9 – the number of two-point field goals from Neptunas. That’s 2nd-worst in League history.
Khimki: Mickael Gelabale – 18 points, six rebounds; Petteri Koponen – 14 points, five rebounds; Marko Popovic – 13 points, nine assists; James Augustine – 10 points, nine rebounds; Egor Vyaltsev – nine points, six rebounds.
Neptunas: Justas Sinica – 15 points; Martynas Mazeika – 11 points; Mindaugas Girdziunas – 11 points; Vitautas Sarakauskas – six points, five rebounds; Edgaras Ulanovas – two points, five rebounds.