VTB United League
Khimki Moscow Region defeated Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd on Monday, 80-78. Dusko Ivanovic's club grabbed a sizeable lead in the 1st quarter and led by as much as 20 early in the 3rd quarter. Volgograd mounted a furious comeback and had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Ekene Ibekwe committed a turnover in the final seconds, giving Khimki the win.
The loss effectively knocks Krasny Oktyabr out of playoff contention, while Dusko Ivanovic picks up his first win as Khimki head coach.
After four straight losses, Khimki dropped to 5th in the standings and couldn't afford another setback. The game also marked Dusko Ivanovic's VTB United League debut, coming a few days after Khimki lost to Bamberg in the Euroleague.
Khimki jumped out to a big lead. Solid defense and Alexey Shved's scoring gave the visitors a 23-6 advantage in the first seven minutes. Sergey Monia capped Khimki's dominant start with a 3-pointer.
Evgenii Voitiuk came off the bench to help Krasny Oktyabr stem the bleeding, but Moscow Region continued to control the tempo. Ivanovic even experimented with lineups, going small with Stanislav Ilnitsky at center. Khimki was able to push the pace with the unusual configuration, but didn't always lock in defensively, allowing Volgograd to pick up some momentum on offense and cut the deficit to 16, 47-31, at the break.
After halftime, both teams emphasized scoring. Volgograd was slightly better, knocking down several perimeter shots and scoring in transition to make it an 11-point game, 65-54.
Krasny Oktyabr continued its comeback in the final period. Khimki couldn't get a '3' to drop and the home team took advantage. Two 3-pointers from Ibekwe pulled Oktyabr within one, 76-75, with 45 seconds to play.
The game was decided in the final seconds. Leading by one, Tyrese Rice went 1-2 at the line, giving the ball back to Oktyabr with 10 seconds remaining. Ibekwe had the ball, but lost his handle, turning the ball over at the worst possible moment.
Khimki emerges with a win, creating some separation in 5th place and keeping the pressure on Lokomotiv-Kuban and Zenit for 3rd place.
Sergey Monia. The Khimki forward has been huge for his team this season. Against Krasny Oktyabr, he knocked down three of four 3-point attempts, scoring 11 points to go with nine rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Stat of the Game
20 — Krasny Oktyabr's biggest deficit in the game, which it very nearly overcame in the second half.
Krasny Oktyabr head coach Kirill Bolshakov:
— We were terrible in the 1st quarter--it's been a recurrent problem for us. Maybe the guys just weren't focused at first. During the second half, we showed our toughness, like usual, and played well. We moved the ball and played good defense over the final two and a half quarters. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to beat a team like Khimki.
Khimki head coach Dusko Ivanovic:
— I'm happy about the win, but not how the game went. In the first half, we played well and did the right things, but during the second, especially in the final 10 minutes, there wasn't any defense and some serious problems on offense. As a result, we ended up with a situation similar to the one in Bamberg, when the team stopped play with five minutes remaining. In future games, we'll try to fix this and solve our poblems. In terms of fitness, I don't think the team is ready to play strong and aggressive basketball for all 40 minutes. That's the primary reason for why we play like this at the end of close games.