Khimki Moscow Region is just one step away from its second Eurocup title after drubbing Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas 66-91 in Game 1 of the Eurocup Finals on Friday at Gran Canaria Arena.
Khimki hosts Game 2 of the two-game total-points series next week knowing that a win – or a loss by up to 24 points – will make it the 2015 Eurocup champion and hand it a berth in the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season. Egor Vyaltsev scored a season-high 18 points and Petteri Koponen also netted 18 points, while Paul Davis tallied 17 points and Eurocup MVP Tyrese Rice totaled 13 points and 5 assists for Khimki, which shot at a blistering pace (72.2% on two-point shots, on 47.8% threes) and outrebounded the hosts 25-34. Kyle Kuric scored 23 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting and Eulis Baez added 18 points and 7 rebounds for Gran Canaria in defeat. Davis scored 10 first quarter points to put Khimki ahead 19-21 after 10 minutes. Then Koponen led an 0-8 run which made it a double-digit game. A three-point play by Oriol Pauli got Gran Canaria within 33-40 at halftime. The third quarter saw Baez almost singlehandedly bring the hosts back into the series at 47-49. However Vyaltsev made a pair of threes and Koponen scored 7 points in a 1-16 charge to open the fourth quarter as Khimki ran away with the game – and possibly, the series.
First quarter: Davis puts Khimki ahead
Baez got Gran Canaria going with a layup which Rice quickly erased with a driving basket. Davis scored around the basket, as Khimki dominated the boards in the early going. Vyaltsev finished a three-chance Khimki offense with a layup and Rice found Davis for an easy basket that capped a 0-8 run. Baez rescued Gran Canaria with a power layup and Kuric struck from downtown to keep the hosts within 7-8. Walter Tavares scored around the basket to put Gran Canaria back ahead, 9-8. Davis followed a jump hook with a backdoor layup to restore a 9-12 Khimki edge. After Ian O'Leary ignited the crowd with a wild put-back slam, Davis answered with a tip-in and Kuric did better with his second triple, which tied it at 14-14. Stanislav Itnitskiy shined with a three-point play and James Augustine erased Albert Oliver's layup with a slam. A running hook by Vyaltsev and free throws by Oliver and O'Leary fixed the score at 19-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Vyaltsev shines, Khimki soars
Gran Canaria had managed to shut down Rice, but Khimki kept finding ways to score. Koponen scored in penetration and a reverse layup by Augustine made it a 6-point game. Koponen swished his trademark five-meter jumper, as Khimki held Gran Canaria scoreless for more than three minutes. A layup by Rice made it 19-29. Tomas Bellas rescued Gran Canaria with a triple and a dunk by Tavares brought the hosts within 5. Sergey Monia silenced the crowd with a three-pointer and Vyaltsev also struck from downtown for a 24-35 Khimki margin. Baez hit foul shots, but Davis buried a turnaround jumper. Oliver made it 28-35. Vyaltsev kept pacing Khimki with a three-point play, however Kuric matched that with a bomb from beyond the arc. Koponen scored in penetration, but Pauli answered with a layup-plus-foul to bring Gran Canaria a bit closer, 33-40, at halftime.
Third quarter: Baez rescues Granca
Baez buried a three-pointer immediately after the break, but an acrobatic layup by Vyaltsev restored a 36-42 Khimki lead. Khimki kept struggling to get Rice involved, but improved its defense and Davis hit another jump hook for a 36-44 advantage. Baez ignited the crowd with a wild put-back slam — and the free throw that came with it. And Kuric added a coast-to-coast layup off a steal, which caused Khimki to call timeout at 41-44. Ilnitskiy and a red-hot Baez exchanged baskets and Monia buried a three-pointer to keep Khimki ahead, 43-49. Baez scored again and added a close jumper to make it a 2-point game. Rice stepped up with a step-back triple, Kuric answered with a one-handed jumper in the lane. A free throw by Davis gave Khimki a 49-53 edge. Brad Newley found his first points, but Davis scored down low. Kendall got the hosts within 52-55. A layup by Augustine, a wild alley-oop slam by O'Leary and a buzzer-beating jumper by Koponen fixed the score at 54-59 at the end of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Khimki’s 1-16 charge puts the game away
Back-to-back threes by Vyaltsev and Monia put the hosts back on their heels. After Kuric split free throws, Koponen made a layup and Vyaltsev nailed another triple. When Augustine completed a three-point play, he also capped a 0-10 run that made it 55-75. Kuric fired in a three, but Koponen responded with the next 5 points for a 22-point lead with five minutes to go. The hosts continued to play hard as Oliver made free throws and Kuric converted a four-point play, but Rice made a pair of threes to keep Khimki comfortably ahead. Kuric banked in a shot, however Koponen’s three and Davis’s free throws gave Khimki its largest lead at the end of the game, 66-91.