Eurocup. BC Khimki — Pamesa Valencia — 76-73 3 april 2009

BC Khimki Moscow region made it to the Eurocup semifinals for the first time in club history by downing Pamesa Valencia 73-76 in their quarterfinals showdown on Friday night. Pamesa stayed alive in the competition and will face iurbentia Bilbao Basket or Zadar in the semifinals at 21:00 CET tomorrow.

Mike Wilkinson paced the winners with 15 points, including key free throws with 9.7 seconds to go. Carlos Delfino and Jorge Garbajosa each added 12, Vitaliy Fridzon had 11 while Maciej Lampe got 10 for Khimki. Albert Oliver led Pamesa with a Eurocup career-best 18 points. Rafa Martinez added 11 for Pamesa. It was a balanced game in the early going, but Martinez and Matt Nielsen helped Pamesa to get a 16-12 edge. Anton Ponkrashov and Lampe allowed Khimki to tie the game, 20-20, at the end of the first quarter. Ratko Varda and Garbajosa fueled a 0-13 Khimki run that allowed their team to get a 25-33 lead. Pamesa found a go-to guy in Ermal Kuqo, who singlehandedly brought Pamesa within 33-37 at halftime. Martinez stepped up for Pamesa after the break while a fast break layup by Victor Claver and free throws by Kosta Perovic completed their team's comeback, 50-49. Three-pointers by Kuqo, Shammond Williams and Vule Avdalovic allowed Pamesa to get a 65-58 lead with under 7 minutes to go. Delfino and Wilkinson allowed Khimki to regain the lead, 70-72, already in the final 2 minutes. Lampe and Wilkinson gave Khimki a 73-76 edge with 7.9 seconds to go, while a running three-point shot by Avdalovic went in and out.

Pamesa coach Neven Spahija opted for an athletic starting lineup, with Florent Pietrus at small forward to guard McCarty. Oliver got Pamesa going with a driving layup that Vitaliy Fridzon matched with a close-in jumper. Kosta Perovic scored around the basket, as Khimki tried to improve its offense with Lampe on court. Meanwhile, a driving basket by Martinez gave Pamesa a 6-2 lead. Palacio drew a couple of fouls and used free throws to get Khimki within 6-5. Both teams entered the foul bonus in less than 4 minutes, while Lampe gave Khimki its first lead, 6-7. Oliver and Martinez made foul shots but Fridzon answered from downtown for a 10-10 tie. Nielsen and Garbajosa traded long two-pointers before more free throws by Martinez restored a 14-12 Pamesa edge. Vule Avdalovic beat the shot clock with a floating layup to add to the lead but a fallaway jumper by Lampe kept Khimki within 16-14. Nielsen downed another shot but Anton Ponkrashov followed foul shots with a driving basket to tie it up again, 18-18. True to the whole course of the first quarter, when Avdalovic scored in transition, Lampe quickly answered with a layup for a 20-20 tie after 10 minutes.

Shammond Williams sank a three-pointer from the top of the key early in the second quarter while Kenny Gregory scored around the basket for a 25-20 Pamesa lead. Mike Wilkinson buried one from downtown for Khimki while Ponkrashov soon joined the three-point shootout to put Khimki back ahead, 25-26. Pamesa could not find the way to the basket for more than 4 minutes while Ratko Varda beat the shot clock with a layup and soon added a tip-in for a 25-30 Khimki lead. Perovic picked up his third foul off a Pamesa timeout before a corner triple by Garbajosa capped a 0-13 Khimki run. Ermal Kuqo stepped up for Pamesa then with a smooth move in the low post, while his team's defense was adjusted with Oliver and Nielsen on court. Kuqo kept pacing Pamesa with a jump hook but Garbajosa answered with a turnaround jumper to keep Khimki way ahead, 29-35. An outstanding Kuqo buried a left-handed jump hook over Lampe, making Khimki call timeout before McCarty and Oliver traded free throws to fix the halftime score at 33-37.

Garbajosa took over with a layup-plus-free throw immediately after the break but an acrobatic jumper by Nielsen kept Pamesa within 35-40. Victor Claver provided a highlight with a two-handed dunk for Pamesa but a long jumper by Garbajosa gave Khimki some fresh air, 37-42. Oliver scored in penetration but Fridzon copied him in the other end. Khimki dominated the boards now while a spin move by Wilkinson gave his team a 39-46 margin. Martinez made free throws and soon struck from downtown to bring Pamesa back to life at 44-46. Wilkinson kept pacing Khimki with foul shots that Oliver matched with a driving layup. A fastbreak basket by Claver tied it at 48-48. Khimki called timeout but free throws by Perovic completed his team's comeback with a 50-49. Carlos Delfino downed a seven-meter bomb while Wilkinson scored a layup to make Khimki regain the lead, 50-54. As the game turned even more intense, Pietrus, Advalovic and Nielsen hit free throws to forge another tie, 54-54 after 30 minutes.

Nielsen hit foul shots early in the fourth quarter while Kuqo buried his first attempt from downtown to give Pamesa a 59-54 margin. Lampe scored in transition but Williams bettered that with a three-pointer, good for a 62-56 Pamesa margin. Delfino shined with a put-back layup but Avdalovic joined the three-point shootout for Pamesa to make Khimki call timeout at 65-58 with under 7 minutes to go. Wilkinson scored around the basket and Delfino added an outstanding fallaway jumper to keep Khimki as close as 65-62. As Pamesa struggled to score now, a power layup by the unstoppable Wilkinson got his team even closer, 65-64. Oliver banked in a three-pointer but free throws by Delfino kept Khimki within 68-65. Oliver hit a corner jumper that Fridzon matched with foul shots for a 70-67 score with 3 minutes remaining. Fridzon nailed a baseline jumper while Delfino buried a key triple off the dribble to put his team back ahead, 70-72, with 1:48 to go. Claver and Lampe missed from downtown while Fridzon collected a good-as-gold steal. Lampe buried a jumper but Oliver sank a running triple for a 73-74 Pamesa deficit with 9 seconds to go. Pamesa immediately fouled on Wilkinson, that nailed both attempts with 7.9 seconds remaining. It all came down to the final play, but a three-point shot by Avdalovic went in and out.

Friday, April 03, 2009
Javier Gancedo,