ULEB Cup. Last game is the decisive one 9 january 2007

The second to the last match of the first stage of the trophy, was played out in the Max-Schmelling Halle in Berlin with BC Khimki facing off against Alba, which having started the tournament off well, brought on some surprises.

The yellow-blues did not start the game off well, though later started the pursuit, and were able to catch up to the Albatrosses at the end of regulation time. However, in the overtime, the home team won. And though Khimki lost the battle: 83-90 ОТ (10-22, 23-25, 23-12, 18-21, 6-13), they did not lose the war. The Moscow Region Club will play in the next match of the Cup against Academic, on 16 January, the last and decisive game.

Top scorers: McCarty (16), Booker (15), Okulaja (15), Lampe (12).

With one hour to the tip off, in Berlin the winner of Group C was decided: Montespaschi, winning in Sofia. All the same, this did not change a thing for the clubs that were preparing for the game in the German capital, one which had to be won.

The visiting team started the match with the usual line up: Booker, Fridzon, McCarty, Veremeenko, Wolkowiski. Kelly McCarty opened the score with an assist by Vitaly Fridzon. Later, the yellow-blues missed some shots from the line, while Alba (and specifically Chris Owens) flawlessly began racking up points until the end. Booker hoped a 3-pointer, first of 2007, and the North American kept on going strong. Rubén Wolkowiski, out of a rebound scored the first points. Vladimir Veremeenko, unable to hold out in his debut against Owens, was switched for Ademola Okulaja and Torres took over for Fridzon.

Within five minutes, the home team committed three fouls on Melvin Booker, who, after wounding the rival’s defense took a breather on the bench. Khimki’s attacks weakened, and for some three minutes running they were unable to hit their mark (before the end of the first quarter, they had lost out on 7 hoops). The Berliners took advantage of this and doubled their lead: 20-9. Maciej Lampe and Ademola Okulaja formed the front line and Maciej, after a steal by Vitaly Fridzon, finally was able to score a field goal, twice in a row. The coaches of the Russian team tried to maintain tempo, and somehow modified the course of the game, injecting changes. However, the only thing they achieved was a series of fouls from the visiting team.

The basketball players from the Moscow Region began to come into better shots, and Elevich called a time out to boost the team’s morale, and motivate them. After the minute, the visitors were more fortunate in the paint, two shots by Lampe and Veremeenko (from the field and from the line), cutting the gap down to 8 points. All the same, the Albatrosses in the first half won the battle of the rebounds: 16-8, and got another chance to counter the game in the second half. During the half time corrective measures were taken, and some adjustments made to the game. In the second half Alexei Savkov was sent out to battle, and Melvin scored from the perimeter.

All the same, the successful attacks from the perimeter made by the Berlin team did not let up. Coming up to the minute 24, they scored 6 out of 11, while their opponent managed 3/10. The Albatrosses also “lead” in the area of fouls, but the percentage of successful free throws from the visiting team left much to be desired. Less than half were converted to points, forfeiting any fouls by Alba players in the end. The visiting team coaches tried to modify the game plan, and launched Gianmarco Pozzecco. With one and half minutes to the last break, after a rebound by Ademola, and a long-awaited 3-pointer by Gianmarco, the gap shrank to 5 points.

Boris Gorenc, with a fast break on the court took the score to 56-59. Ademola replied from the arc to a near hit by Koko Archibong. Oscar Torres hit the court. Despite the clear advantage of Alba in the rebounds Ademola found a sure fire weapon from the perimeter and with some sharp runs. He took Khimki to the lead: 64-61. Moreover, with five minutes to the siren, a trio from the home team had 4 fouls, and their coach called a minute. The visiting team had the chance to commit tactical fouls as well as play a rough defense. The home team was practically forced to protect themselves. This, as witnessed shortly after, did not help out much.

The teams continued to score hits, with 3 minutes to go, first McCarty, then Owens. With 4 points down and 2 minutes to go to the “gong,” Elevich called a time out, and sent in Savkov, while Okulaja again scored from the perimeter line. After some blunders under both nets, Elevich called another minute. Then
Rubén Wolkowiski made a single attempt from the line and leveled the score. The last offensive move during regular time was made by Alba, while Okulaja capped it off.

Overtime started off with a foul by Kelly McCarty over Herber later scoring one from the charity line. Melvin’s attempt from the perimeter did not make its mark, and Herber, having lost the ball committed his fifth foul, heading out, together with Archibong, to the bench for a rest. Kelly scored both penalties that were later answered by Avery and Owens. The scoreboard lit on: 82-79 in favor of the home team. Two shots by Khimki missed their mark, and when the difference climbed to 8 points in favor of the home team, Savkov and Lampe were launched onto court by the home team coaches. It was possible to catch up only with successful attempts from the perimeter, but Lampe and Booker fell short. Khimki’s coaches called a time out and later launched Booker and Pozzecco. Both teams applied, when possible, foul strategies. But this tactic did not prove successful for the visiting team.