Russian Championship. The leaders didn’t “take off” 6 january 2007

Khimki kicked off the new calendar year with a face off against the national champion CSKA. The visiting team showed good basketball at only the first half, while in the second half they couldn’t thwart the home team, as the visiting team’s leaders didn’t muster the necessary salt and lost: 72-87 (22-22, 18-24, 8-22, 24-19). The next game of the Russian Championship for the Moscow Region team will take place Saturday, 13 January hosting a face off against Standart de Toliatti.

Top Scorers: McCarty (20), Veremeenko (14), Savkov (9), Fridzon (9)

During the last game of the first round in the “easy” stage of the championship, the Moscow Region coaches left Torres, Okulaja, and Gorenc on the bench, though Russia’s Mozgov was part of the roster once again. The visiting team’s starting line up: Booker, Fridzon, McCarty, Veremeenko, Wolkowiski. The first shots at both hoops went amiss, though the home team met their mark earlier on. Khimki wasn’t able to score until 2.26 minutes after their initial attempt. The second shot by Kelly McCarty made it through taking the board to: 4-7. Despite the fact that the red-blues were ahead in the battle under the net, Khimki did not let them get too far ahead.

The visiting team’s coaches switched the playmaker and center, sending Gianmarco Pozzecco and Maciej Lampe out on court. The front line for the home team was more mobile, but was losing ground as the opponent gained on them. When the gap was down to a minimum, Coach Messina changed the line up. Khimki boosted its defense and Vladimir Diatchok, from the arc, leveled the score: 16-16. After some moves, Alexei Savkov replied with a triple play to Antón Ponkrashov and took his team to the lead. The teams went to the break with four double digits on the boards. For a good 17 minutes McCarty was the only one of the yellow-blues to shine from the perimeter (the visiting team during this time made 8 attempts, Savkov broke the bad luck). The home team was more successful in the 3-point attempts.

After the break, Khimki’s coaches returned the dominant centers to the court, and Rubén Wolkowiski at mid-quarter opened up his personal score. Vladimir Veremeenko got his third foul and was sent to the bench. Soon after Vitaly Fridzon ran into the same luck. The lightweights hit the court and Elevich’s boys started making some prolonged attacks. Later, Khimki again gained some speed and took the lead, though after a few seconds lost 5 points without answering back, and went to the break 6 points down as a result of some less successful close attempts (10/26 against 13/19). As for the remaining statistics, save for being slightly under in the rebounds, the visiting team was not losing.

During the initial quarter the visiting team zone pressed, but this defense didn’t get them far enough. The leader’s performance -Booker and Wolkowiski — was lackluster, and the coaches changed them, but when the difference (for the first time in the game) doubled, they called a time out. All the same, after this pause four 3-pointers by CSKA were laid up and Khimki went to the last break down by 20 points. The home team began the last quarter with a heavier line up.

Nonetheless, the home team kept on scoring, Khimki netted some ideal shots from the perimeter (the visiting team missed their free throw for the first time with 2.19 to go), as they pushed a series of fouls on the home team hoping to gain from this. Of course, truth is the Moscow Region club was not about to give up, but winning in the final quarter against CSKAs lead was unreal. They were able to “hunt down the ball” only in the last two minutes of the game…