Khimki leaves Riga with valuable road win
Khimki Moscow Region escaped from Riga with a 79-86 victory over VEF to raise its record to 4-2 in Group D. VEF Riga dropped to 1-5 to remain at the bottom of the group with dwindling hopes to advance to the next stage. A 12-0 second-quarter run with three consecutive triples opened the difference for Khimki to 23-41 and Petteri Koponen scored the last 9 points for his side before halftime to keep the hosts at a safe distance.
Khimki never looked back and only late in the game was VEF able to get the deficit into single figures. Tyrese Rice tallied 21 points and 5 assists to lead the winners, Koponen scored 20 points, Sergey Monia posted 12 points and 10 rebounds, Marko Popovic added 11 points and 6 assists and James Augustine scored 10. Ronalds Zakis and Ingus Jakovics netted 17 points each for VEF Riga, Gerald Robinson scored 15 and Janis Timma 11 with 8 assists.
Bamba Fall’s huge dunk tied the score for the last time at 9-9. Then the visitors exploded with 11 unanswered points, with Popovic hitting a three-pointer and Koponen completing a fast break with an easy layup for a 9-20 margin. Zakis completed a three-point-play for the home team, while Arturs Strelniek posted free throws to make it 14-23 at the first break. Monia dunked for a 19-27 advantage early in the second and after Janis Timma scored underneath make it 23-29, Khimki went on a 12-0 run with consecutive triples by Rice, Monia and Koponen for a 23-41 advantage. Jahovics tried to keep the home team alive, but 9 points in a row netted by Koponen rejected further VEF to 36-54 at halftime.
Rice’s jumper made it a 20-point game early in the second half. Zakis’s dunk excited VED Riga and its fans, but Khimki remained in control and Joeffrey Lauvergne from the foul line gave again a 20-point margin to his team. Jakovics scored three times in a row from downtown and the hosts were back within 54-64 late in the quarter. A Koponen jumper made it 54-66 through three quarters. James Augustine’s layup gave a 60-75 cushion to Khimki at the midway point of the last quarter. Artur Berzins from downtown made it 70-77 and excited the crowd, but Popovic hit a three and 2 free throws, showing his team was in perfect control. With 19 seconds left Robinson scored to get within 79-85 before Rice sealed the visitors’ win from the free throw line.