Valencia Basket recorded its third consecutive win by downing Khimki Moscow Region 89-84 at La Fonteta on Thursday.
Valencia improved to 4-6 in the standings while Khimki dropped to 6-4. Bojan Dubljevic led the winners with 18 points, Mike Tobey added 15 points plus 10 rebounds, Vanja Marinkovic scored 13 and Quino Colom tallied 12 points plus 11 assists for Valencia. Stefan Jovic led Khimki with 19 points and 11 assists, Devin Booker and Jonas Jerebko each added 14 points and Alexey Shved had 11 for the visitors. The game came down to the final minutes; a three-pointer by Jovic made it 85-84 in the next-to-last minute, but free throws by Jordan Loyd and a big basket by Dubljevic sealed the outcome.
Valencia started the game with aggressiveness as Louis Labeyrie finished a third-chance offense with a tip-in. Khimki had a different strategy, as Jovic, Dairis Bertans and Booker each struck from downtown in a 2-18 run that Anthony Gill capped with a jump hook for a 4-20 lead. Marinkovic hit a three-pointer and Colom added a driving layup that gave Valencia hope at 9-20. Tobey stepped up with a three-point play and a layup, but Chris Kramer and Jeremy Evans established a 14-26 Khimki advantage. Colom answered with a layup-plus-foul, which Brock Motum followed with a triple to bring Valencia within 20-26. Shved answered from downtown and followed Kramer's coast-to-coast layup with a jumper for a 26-33 Khimki lead after 10 minutes. Marinkovic nailed a triple early in the second quarter and consecutive dunks by Tobey and Motum brought the hosts as close as 33-35. Jerebko rescued the visitors with a triple, but Abalde and Tobey got Valencia within 39-40. Bertans downed a three-pointer, Tobey and Gill exchanged layup-plus-fouls and then Colom hit a jumper for a 46-48 score. Booker stopped the show with a huge dunk, but Fernando San Emeterio found his first points and a three-pointer by Loyd gave Valencia its first lead, 49-48. Dubljevic gave the hosts a 51-48 edge at halftime.
Bertans downed a triple immediately after the break, but Abalde answered with a floater and Colom hit a jumper for a 55-51 Valencia edge. Jerebko and Jovic joined the three-point shootout, but Khimki allowed too many baskets in transition — Abalde, Labeyrie and Dubljevic kept Valencia in charge, 62-57. Dubljevic took over with back-to-back layups, but Jovic scored in penetration and fed Jerebko for a triple that brought Khimki within 66-62. Jerebko dunked and then Kramer and Jovic scored around the basket for a 67-68 Khimki lead, after a 1-12 run. Marinkovic struck from beyond the arc and Vives added a driving layup, but Booker kept the visitors within 72-70 after 30 minutes. Dubljevic and Marinkovic gave the hosts fresh air, 76-73, early in the fourth quarter. Jerebko buried his fourth triple, but Dubljevic scored twice around the basket for an 80-76 Valencia lead with less than 6 minutes left. Jovic downed a three-pointer and Motum and Kramer traded layups, but Colom nailed a triple for an 85-81 Valencia lead in the next-to-last minute. Jovic answered from downtown only to see a jump hook by Dubljevic and free throws by Loyd seal the outcome, 89-84, allowing Valencia to celebrate another win.
Colom came off the bench and made things happen for Valencia with his outstanding court vision and off-the-charts basketball IQ. He finished the game with 12 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 7 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22, a new season-high and close to his career-best effort — a PIR of 25 playing for UNICS Kazan against Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in December 2016.
Valencia's defense made the difference in the final seconds and its most-inspired player stepped up in crunch time. Colom gave Valencia an 85-81 with a three-pointer, Loyd hit critical free throws and Dubljevic hit a floater off the baseline that sealed the outcome. Khimki was held scoreless in the final 90 seconds, so Valencia's defense takes the credit for this win.
Bench players made the difference in this game, highlighting the importance of a deep roster in the second game of a double-round week. Valencia got 57 points from its bench players and Khimki got only 30. Valencia heavily outrebounded Khimki 44-34, too. Those 44 rebounds tied Valencia's second-best mark in EuroLeague history; it pulled down 46 rebounds against FC Barcelona on January 16, 2018.
Did you notice?
It was a special game for Chris Kramer. Last season, in Game 1 of the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals on March 5, Kramer suffered an ACL injury playing for Rytas Vilnius, which kept him sidelined for months. He returned in November and this was his fourth EuroLeague game and first on the floor where he was injured. He had 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists in a season-high 27 minutes.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action on Thursday, November 28. Khimki visits Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, featuring the Russian powerhouse's former center Joffrey Lauvergne. Valencia travels to the Serbian capital to face Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.