It might have taken Khimki Moscow Region three and a half months to win another game on the road, but it could have hardly come with better timing to build momentum.
Khimki defeated AX Armani Exchange Milan 69-78 on Thursday night, completing a sweep of Milan and climbing into a four-team tie at 11-14 record and, at least for one night, into eighth place and a playoff position.
"It was an important game, we knew that before coming here", said afterward Alexey Shved, who paced his team with 18 points. Shved fired up 15 shots and connected on just 5, but he showed very good decision-making and was not forcing any issues. His assists in the first half — he finished with 6 for the night — got the team going along with Jonas Jerebko who had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Both players played more than 33 minutes, along with Devin Booker, and Khimki had a shorter rotation where only seven players spent more than 6 minutes on the floor. But they produced well.
Khimki met its average by making 11 three-pointers for the night and 7 of them by six different players in the first half. Immediately after the break, Khimki started taking a different route, taking the ball more often to the rim, which led to a 0-15 run and gave the visitors a lead they never relinquished.
"We had some problems in the beginning of the third quarter because sometimes players in the halftime relax," Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis reminded of the team's issues in some past game. "Tonight we were good. [The victory] is important because we had a lot of good games, but we had bad endings."
It was only Khimki's third road win of the season, which snapped an eight-game losing streak away from home and a nine-game streak outside of Russian soil. Also, it is the first time Khimki registered back-to-back wins since Round 8 and its first win against Milan. Regardless of whether Khimki ends this round in eighth place or not, with direct playoff rivals Olympiacos Piraeus and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul still coming to visit, Khimki is suddenly feeling pretty good in what is shaping up to be another tight playoff race.