VTB United League
Khimki Moscow Region hosts CSKA Moscow in a regular-season contest.
BCMO (capacity 4,000), Khimki, Russia
8:00 PM (8:00 MSK), March 4, 2019
Match TV, VTB-League.com
Face to face
CSKA and Khimki have played 106 times with the Army Men enjoying an 88-18 lead. Within the League, the Red and Blue have a 22-6 edge over Moscow Region. Numerous meetings between the clubs have become instant VTB United League classics. But that has not necessarily been the case in recent seasons. The Army Men have Khimki’s number right now, including the League and EuroLeague postseason. Khimki last defeated CSKA in the VTB League on February 8, 2015 (107-104).
Both teams are at a critical juncture in the regular season. Khimki (12-5) has dropped to 4th place for the first time this season thanks to a three-game skid. Another defeat would mean Moscow Region would be tied with Astana in the loss column. Khimki’s goal, of course, at the start of the season, was to finish no worse than second, which would likely mean avoiding CSKA until the playoff finals and improve the club’s chances of qualifying for the EuroLeague.
Of course, there’s no guarantee CSKA will end up in 1st place. The Red and Blue are being chased by UNICS and due to the recent loss in Kazan would finish beneath the Tatar club should they finish the season with identical records.
The regular season is entering the home stretch. Khimki and CSKA are both competing for top spots in the League and desperately need a win in the legendary Leningradka Derby.
The week behind
Khimki saw its EuroLeague playoff hopes dented with a loss at home to Milan, 90-88. The Yellow and Blue also lost Jordan Mickey and Tony Crocker to injury and neither player will be available on Monday.
CSKA enjoyed a convincing win vs. rival Olympiacos in one of Europe’s most intimidating arenas, 97-81. The Red and Blue will be flying high after taking down one of its toughest European opponents.
After missing two and a half months with a broken finger, Alexey Shved is back. The star guard recorded 23 points and 11 assists to go with a game-high 29 efficiency rating in the loss to Milan. At the same time, he shot only 3-11 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over five times.
Khimki is still Shved’s team with all of the accompanying pluses and minuses.
Semyon Antonov soon to join elite club
Semyon Antonov needs to score six points to become the 4th player in the League to record 2,000 points. The Russian national team player is close to joining an elite club, which includes Vitaly Fridzon (2,319), Alexey Shved (2,261) and Nando De Colo (2,107).
Khimki is ahead of CSKA in all-time three-point field goals made in the League: 2,275 vs. 2,245. But Moscow has a higher total this season, averaging 10.2 per game vs. 9.9 for Khimki.
After Vitaly Fridzon’s move to Lokomotiv-Kuban, the Army Men no longer have any former Khimki players on the roster. The Yellow and Blue, however, boast three former CSKA players: Sergey Monia (2002-05), Egor Vyaltsev (2002-04) and Alexey Shved (2005-12). Khimki’s young hope Timofey Yakushin also played in the Red and Blue system.
Stefan Markovic and Nando De Colo played together at Valencia during the 2011-12 season.
4 – Khimki’s longest losing streak in the League, recorded during the 2015-16 season courtesy of defeats to Nizhny Novgorod, Avtodor, Lokomotiv-Kuban and UNICS.
With a loss to CSKA on Monday, Khimki will match its record after earlier defeats to Zenit, Loko and UNICS.
Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis: “We have to play without two leading players, Mickey and Crocker, who weren’t even able to help the team in the final minutes vs. Milan. That’s one of the reasons we weren’t able to close out that game. We’ve been beset by injuries, but we continue to work and prepare. The game vs. CSKA is a good chance for players who haven’t had much playing time to show what they can do. I’m happy with the practices and the desire shown by the guys. Plus, we are always extra motivated for CSKA. The game will show how everything unfolds. The Army Men played well in their last EuroLeague game and showed that they are in great form right now. Like usual, I don’t look so much at the opponent, whether their issues or their strengths. I’m more worried about our team, our practices and our preparation. In recent games, our problem has been our inability to close out a win. We played well for 35 minutes against Milan, but simply didn’t finish the game. We didn’t have enough players and maybe lacked the killer instinct that should smell blood and close things out. I think with Shved’s return, there will be a lot of changes to how we play. He’ll help us, especially late in games.”
CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis: “We are facing our biggest rival in the VTB League. They had an extra day to prepare and no flights during the prior week. We had less time, plus we need to spread out the playing time, but we know how to do that. Like I said, this is an important match-up. Khimki is a talented team. We know each other well, so we’re going to focus on our own plan for the game.”