ULEB Cup. One hundred points and it’s the playoffs!16 january 2007

Khimki played on its home court in the last game of the first stage of the trophy in a face off against Academic of Bulgaria. The home team needed this win and coming up on halftime, the game’s results were decided. The Moscow Region’s players went straight for it, and in the second half, clinched an astounding win: 101-77 (29-14, 24-15, 22-16, 26-28), thus securing their place in the grouping. The next game in the ULEB Cup of the 1/8 round will take place 30 January, against an opponent to be determined by a draw.

Top scorers: Veremeenko (18), Lampe (16), Booker (14), McCarty (12), Wolkowiski (11).

The only club that could afford to chill a bit during the tooth-and-nail-battle for victory was the Montespaschi Club, which has already consolidated its first position. Khimki’s starting line up had to fight blood, sweat, and tears to earn their victory, even taking into account their lead in points. Meanwhile, all else now hinges on the hope of a favorable outcome for the other group matches to define Khimki’s upcoming opponent. Melvin Booker and Oscar Torres, who missed out on the Standart game, were back in form, while Podkolzin, who is also back in shape, remained on the bench.

The home team line-up tipped off with: Booker, Fridzon, McCarty, Veremeenko, Wolkowiski. The first attempts were successful, and later after some errors both teams started to exchange some 3-pointers: 5-5. The home team did not debut with an offense in the paint, preferring instead to launch some long distance shots. Even Rubén Wolkowiski scored the first points on his personal score with a shot from the perimeter. It was only after the second half of the first quarter that Kelly McCarty was effective under the board. The artillery from a distance was effective (not only score-wise, but the “fundamental” center of the visiting team, Mate Skelin, quickly garnered 2 fouls) and the visiting team’s Coach Dokuzovski asked for a time out faced with -6.

Wolkowiski was thundering from the perimeter, from where he scored three times taking it to: 26-14. In the course of the first quarter the yellow-blues, for a second time, did not allow the opponent to shoot for 24 seconds. After a throw by Veremeenko, the advantage leapt to 15 points.

After the break, Khimki’s players relaxed a bit on the defense, which cost them two 3-pointers from the opponent. All the same, they did not let the students cut their lead, bolstering the defense for the long distance shots. After a couple of cuts, Sofia’s team coaches were obligated to ask for a minute breather when the count hit: 38-20.

Quickly Maciej Lampe took the lead to double, and the home team simply did not let the visiting team near their hoop, forcing them to attempt from a distance, when and if they had time to do so. Bergman stopped the clock one minute when his boys took the lead to 21 points. The 50-point mark was a spectacle, Torres made a steal and a pass to Melvin Booker to break out, running to the base line, without looking, passing it to McCarty, who made it in. The second half started with a series of errors on the part of both teams, until Booker took over.

The visiting team, with the understanding that they had no chance to cut their deficit except by scoring from the perimeter, armed their game with distance shots. Khimki, once in awhile replied in kind, but their offense was prepared and calibrated, not like the visiting team’s hurried improvisations.

Tracking Booker, Jones already had four fouls in the quarter. For awhile, the Moscow Region Club wasn’t able to get up a fast game, but later was able to run. Dokuzovski, understanding the situation, asked for a time-out, as the scoreboard was burning: 64-37.

Boris Gorenc netted a shot at the siren at the last break. The yellow-blues did not let down and continued their game plan on defense and rebounds, while the offense was open to thrill the stands. It was at that point that the Russian club’s lead surpassed 30 points, and the players had the luxury of idling it, just as the visiting team mustered some valuable 3-pointers in a row, and the score went to 91-60. The coaches asked for a minute to “deliberate.” But there was not much to ponder and with five seconds left on the game clock, Savkov lit up the 3-digit number: 100, a first during regular time in an ULEB Cup match.