Games to Watch: Khimki Moscow Region
This season will mark Khimki Moscow Region's sixth in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and its third in the past four years and it comes in confident after making its maiden playoff appearance last season. Khimki knows it can beat all the big teams and targets another ticket to the playoffs this spring. Here are some important dates for Khimki on that road.
Round 1: Old friends on opening night
Khimki starts the regular season at home against Olympiacos Piraeus and several familiar faces. Coach Georgios Bartzokas guided the Reds – and four of their current players – to 2013 EuroLeague title. His Olympiacos counterpart, David Blatt, coached Khimki players Alexey Shved and Sergey Monia to medals at the Olympics and European championships with Team Russia. More important than their relationships with the opposing coaches is the fact that Olympiacos's last visit to Mytishchi Arena resulted in an 82-54 thrashing at the hands of Khimki and that will be on both teams' minds.
Round 7: Seeking to repeat against the champs
Last season Khimki also faced an early trip to the Spanish capital. Khimki visited Madrid in Round 5 and came away with an 80-86 victory behind 20 points and 5 assists from Alexey Shved. It was a memorable road victory that set Khimki on a winning path that resulted in the club's first ever EuroLeague playoff berth. This time the game will be Khimki's third on the road of the season and a strong showing against the defending champs might just be what the team needs to propel itself into a second playoff appearance.
Round 12: The Leningradka derby
There is no bigger rival for Khimki than CSKA Moscow. It starts with the fact that the teams hail from different sides of the Russian capital. Continues with the fact that several players have played in the past for the rival. Last season's closely contested playoff series – which CSKA won 3-1, even though it outscored Khimki by just 3 total over the four games – brings the intensity to a new level. With so many key players from both teams back, the Leningradka derby will be hot.
Round 16: Happy times at Gran Canaria Arena
No trip in the EuroLeague this season will be longer than Khimki's 5,000+ kilometer trek to Gran Canaria to open the second half of the regular season, but it is a trip that Khimki has done before successfully... And there are those in the club that remember it fondly. Khimki dismantled a powerful Gran Canaria squad 66-91 in the opening game of the 2015 EuroCup Finals with both Egor Vialtsev and Sergey Monia starting. Khimki completed the job five days later at home to win the title. This will be the first meeting between these teams since.
Round 30: Back to Barcelona
For the second straight year, Khimki closes out the regular season in Barcelona, which is also where Coach Georgios Bartzokas was last employed before coming to Khimki. Though Barcelona swept the two meetings between the teams last season, Bartzokas achieved a memorable win there in 2016 when he led Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar to the Final Four. Could this Round 30 showdown determine playoff spots this season? It's very possible!