Planinic leads Khimki to big road win against the Greens
BC Khimki Moscow Region improved its chances of reaching the Top 16 from Group A by downing Panathinaikos Athens 67-79 in the Greek capital on Friday. Khimki improved to 3-2 and now faces a pivotal showdown against Fenerbahce Ulker at home next week. Panathinaikos dropped to 2-3 and hosts Group A leader Real Madrid on Thursday. Zoran Planinic led the winners with 18 points. Kresimir Loncar added 14, Paul Davis had 13, Petteri Koponen 12 and Vitaliy Fridzon contributed 10 for Khimki. Roko Ukic led Panathinaikos with 13 points. Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 12 and Jonas Maciulis had 11 for the Greens. Schortsanitis shined early to give Panathinaikos a 23-17 lead after 10 minutes. Free throws by Kostas Tsartsaris soon put the Greens ahead by double figures, 34-24. Planinic, Koponen and Davis led Khimki to within 41-38 at halftime. A fast break layup by Planinic completed Khimki's comeback, 43-44. A close basket by Maciulis gave Panathinaikos its last lead, 58-56, late in the third quarter. Koponen and an inspired Planinic fueled a 1-16 fourth-quarter run that sealed the outcome as Panathinaikos never recovered.
First quarter: Sofo dominates, Panathinaikos leads
Gaios Skordilis, a surprise starter for Panathinaikos, got the Greens going with a layup. Sergey Monya split free throws and Kreso Loncar soon gave Khimki its first lead, 2-3. Maciulis struck from downtown for the hosts. Khimki tried to slow down the game tempo. Maciulis kept pacing Panathinaikos with a power layup and free throws by Andy Panko and Schortsanitis gave the hosts a 10-5 margin. Schortsanitis scored in the paint, but Planinic singlehandedly kept Khimki within 12-8. Panathinaikos kept running its offense through Schortsanitis, but back-to-back baskets by Davis brought the guests a bit closer, 14-12. Schortsanitis split foul shots and Maciulis buried a wide open three-pointer to give the Greens a 18-12 lead. Davis stepped up with a second-chance basket, which Ukic bettered with a three-pointer. K.C. Rivers made 1 free throws and Fridzon added a close jumper to keep Khimki within 23-17 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Khimki bites into the deficit
Loncar scored down low early in the second quarter and then matched Schortsanitis's power layup with another easy basket. Ukic shined with a driving layup in transition and a turnaround jumper by Mike Bramos made it an 8-point game. Planinic immediately stepped up with a layup, which Derwin Kitchen bettered with a three-point play. Khimki entered the foul penalty really early and Kostas Tsartsaris quickly delivered with free throws. Koponen sank a jumper, however, and a layup by James Augustine caused the Greens to call timeout at 34-28. Planinic scored again and Koponen sank a triple in transition to bring Khimki back to life, 34-33. Stephane Lasme shined with a put-back layup and an alley-oop slam, but a three-point play by Davis kept Khimki within 38-36. Augustine made free throws, but Ukic allowed Panathinaikos to reach halftime with a 41-38 margin.
Third quarter: Ukic keeps the Greens alive
Schortsanitis scored in the paint right after the break but Planinic shined with a driving layup and Davis added a follow-up basket to make it a one-point game, 43-42. Panathinaikos kept struggling to score and a fast break layup by Planinic completed the guests' comeback, 43-44. The Greens called timeout and Tsartsaris rescued his team with a three-pointer. Khimki could not play with the same intensity once it entered the foul penalty. Fridzon stepped up with a layup, however, and Planinic added a wild driving basket to put the guests back ahead, 47-48. Ukic scored in penetration and matched Monya's triple with his own shot from downtown. Skordilis soon added free throws for a 54-51 Panathinaikos lead. Fridzon took over with a three-point play, Lasme and Alexey Zhukanenko traded layups and Maciulis gave the Greens a 58-56 lead. Koponen downed a jumper off the dribble to tie it, 58-58, after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: 1-16 Khimki run seals it
Planinic struck from downtown early in the fourth quarter, as Khimki improved its defensive intensity. The Greens were held scoreless for more than two minutes, while free throws by Loncar and a three-pointer by Koponen forced Panathinaikos to call a much-needed timeout, 58-66. Panathinaikos missed three consecutive shots from beyond the arc before a free throw by Kitchen gave the Greens some hope, 59-66, with six minutes left. Davis dunked and a backdoor layup by Planinic broke the game open, 59-70, with over four minutes to go. Koponen downed a stop-and-pop jumper that capped a 1-16 run, which sealed the outcome, 59-72. Schortsanitis split free throws and Bramos added a fast break layup, but it was already too little, too late for the Greens. Even though Panathinaikos kept fighting, Khimki had cruised to a well-deserved and critical road win.
Friday, November 9, 2012