Russian Championship. Challenging tradition28 april 2007

During the rematch of the Quarter Finals in the National Championship playoffs, BC Khimki lost the third quarter, which is traditionally considered sealing the fate of the game’s definitive end results. However, thanks to an awesome comeback in the fourth 10-minute period, the home team pulled off a victory: 82-77 ОТ (21-15, 13-18, 13-20, 18-12, 17-12). Up until the fifth chapter of the season in the Moscow Region battle, and the third in the playoffs, the teams will have time enough to draw conclusions.

Next game, 10 May, at the Triumph of Lyubertsy.

Top Scorers: Lampe (21), McCarty (12), Booker (12), Wolkowyski (10).

Khimki’s players started the second round of face offs in the Moscow Region with a starting line up that differed from that of the first round: Veremeenko ceded his place to his namesake (Diatchok). Tipping off the game: Booker, Fridzon, McCarty, Diatchok, and Lampe. The opponent’s starting five was the same as the previous game. Immediately after ball came alive, a serious battle was unleashed, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.

Vitaly Fridzon chalked up two fouls almost immediately and was switched for Savkov. Vladimir Diatchok, already in this second offensive play proved a good choice for his inclusion in the starting line up, beating the opponent’s Likholitov under the boards. Topping off minute 3, the home team was working its defense to such a point that Dynamo couldn’t set up one during the shot-clock, and 200 seconds into the game the count was: 8-3. Coming up to midway through the period, Maciej Lampe had two 3-pointers to his credit, having almost stepped the line for both! Then a rarity happened at minute 5:43 when tallying Khimki’s 11 points scored, 9 of these were Lampe’s.

Captain and center player, Argentine Ruben Wolkowyski, took the “goal-maker’s” place, and in the rear guard the dynamic duo Gianmarco Pozzecco — Alexei Shved took to the court. Roderick Blakney was among the opponent’s better players leveling the score at: 13-13. Pozzecco moved the game and the quarter along thanks to some rapid fire breaks; his 3-pointer gained the lead for Khimki: 8-0. Pozzecco’s fellow guard, Melvin Booker was sent on court to mix up the offense and meet the opponent in their zone defense. All would have gone well if not for Blakney – who had to his credit more than half the rival’s points made for his team.

Things got off-the-chain and players and referees had to struggle to cool down a fistfight between Veremeenko and Likholitov (brought on by Dynamo’s boy). This act garnered fouls for both players, who later shook hands to bury any misunderstandings. Alexei Savkov made his first attempt from the arc, but things got out of hand for him, and the visiting team got far distant shot lined up: Foul 31-30.

During the first match, Dynamo’s players mustered two-thirds of their offensive plays in the paint. During the second match, the yellow-n-blues showed a significantly more serious defense; and highly mobile they made it difficult for the opponent to set up their attempts and in the half the visiting team mustered 11/24 2-point shots. Nonetheless, from under the boards, they too were lackluster. Evidently the enormous responsibility was weighing down on all players, and the percentage of successful field goals left much to be desired.

After the game started up again, Fridzon scored his first points to his credit, and hit Blakney. Unhappy with this poor start of the second half Coach Kemzura changed the front line players, but failed to stop the visiting team from taking the lead. Zamansky humiliated his ex-team mates with some fast breaks to the center. Faced with under 4, Wolkowyski finally netted the first score in the second half from the arc. The home team took on a cautious offense, and did not waste attempts from the line. As happened Friday, each error became more costly, and even attempts became of serious value not to be gambled lightly.

Pozzecco was launched to battle, and even with the chance of closing the gap for his team, they had 1.5 minutes on the game clock to the last break and the opponent’s advantage grew to a 9-point lead. This was whittled down to a 3-point lead at the end of the quarter. In the fourth quarter two centers were launched to battle it out, and Lampe’s fist offense from the arc was answered by Gustas. Fridzon made a shot, and forced a foul from his opponents: 3 points in one single attack. The front line players’ superiority was showing for Khimki, with Lampe as the main shooter.

With 5.53 minutes on the clock, Maciej cut the disadvantage: 58-60, and Wolkowyski, in a sure-shot from the 3-point line forced Dynamo MRs Coach Shakulin to call a time out. Afterwards, and following their team’s 2-point shot, Khimki’s Diatchok made a free throw shot and Lampe also made good. With 3 up Khimki was fighting off the offensive replies from the visiting team, though Lampe wasn’t’ able to make any baskets for a full minute until the siren blow. Zamansky also erred, in what seemed like a “contagion”. With 22.2 seconds left on the clock Khimki has possession of the ball, but after their offense ended with Fridzon’s fast break, Kemzura called a minute down time.

Lacking tactics, not a single shot was made from the line; Zamansky making one of two, but the visiting team committed fouls. Lampe couldn’t net one, while Gustas scored and the game leveled off at: 65-65. Khimki’s players had 8.9 seconds for one last attack. Melvin attempted a 3-pointer that ended up an air ball, Lampe attempted to score, without success, and the game went to overtime.

The first offense by the visiting team in the 5 minute OT was cut off with a whistle at 24 seconds, and Kelly McCarty launched a 3-pointer. Dynamo’s players rebounded twice in Khimki’s court and attacked for many more minutes, but without results. Booker, in turn, scored some points but Gustas answered from the arc, followed by Likholitov in the paint, once again leveling the score. Booker then did a double 3-pointer and Demeshkin answered back: 76-72. With little under 1 minute on the clock the Lithuanian from Dynamo, answered Lampe. Melvin made both free throws, after two others bringing to a total 12 points made in OT, and a victory for the team!

Post Game Coach Comments

Dynamo Moscow Region Coach Dmitry SHAKULIN:

— I want to give Khimki our heart felt congratulations on their victory. Yesterday we showed our best game of the season, and I was afraid the following day’s game was not going to be the same success. Khimki’s players became more aggressive under the boards. The game was fascinating: topping the play offs. I would say this was truly a man’s game, one that coaches, players, and fans can be proud of.

Khimki Coach Kestutis KEMZURA:

— First off I want to thank my players, who were able to arm themselves and show their character. Yesterday’s defeat was a shock for us, but you can’t win all of the time. We felt the great responsibility to our fans, and we set up a better defense for that reason. We started off well, but every once in a while we made some mistakes. The boys didn’t always enter the game from the bench as expected. We have two great players; we had to use Lampe and Wolkowyski, as they compliment each other. Ruben is a bit better in the defense and rebounds, Maciej in the offense. In the fourth quarter we were able to break the opponent’s defense; and in OT Booker was spectacular, taking the game forward and showing everyone, once again, he is a natural born leader.