Crvena Zvezda advanced to the ULEB Cup quarterfinals for the second consecutive season by downing Khimki 76-93 in the Moscow region, Russia on Tuesday to sweep their two-way series. Zvezda had already beaten Khimki 89-77 in the 1st leg in Belgrade, Serbia two weeks ago and will face Real Madrid or Alba Berlin in the next round. As usual, Milan Gurovic led the winners with 21 points. Igor Milosevic added 13, Petar Popovic and Vuk Radivojevic each had 12 while Tadija Dragicevic chipped in 10 for Zvezda. Maciej Lampe had 20 points for Khimki, Ademola Okulaja and Kelly McCarty each had 14 while Gianmarco Pozzecco scored 10 points for the hosts, that had a bitter end to an otherwise satisfying first-ever ULEB Cup season. Gurovic and an outstanding Radivojevic fueled a 8-26 opening run which sealed the series outcome for good. Lampe paced Khimki in the second quarter, but a balanced offense allowed Zvezda to keep a safe margin, 37-51, at halftime. Pero Antic and Milosevic stepped up after the break, as Zvezda boosted its margin to 42-65 and cruised to a big road win.
Khimki went scoreless in the opening 3 minutes, while Nenad Misanovic dunked it and Gurovic fired in his first three-pointer for a 0-5 Zvezda lead. Khimki kept missing one shot after another, while an easy layup by Milosevic forced the hosts to call timeout at 0-7. Radivojevic capped a 0-9 opening run for Zvezda, as Vitaliy Fridzon finally got Khimki going with a triple. Milosevic and Radivojevic answered from downtown for a 3-15 Zvezda lead. Pozzecco followed a layup with a big triple but a 0-11 run in which Radivojevic had 5 points made it a 18-point game, 8-26. Pozzecco and McCarty brought Khimki within 11-26 after 10 minutes, as Zvezda now had a 27-point lead in the series. Fridzon tried to ignit the Khimki comeback but free throws by Gurovic gave his team a 13-29 lead. Okulaja and Lampe stepped up with consecutive baskets, but Popovic followed a layup with a put-back basket to keep Zvezda way ahead, 17-33. Lampe kept pacing Khimki but Antonio Burks buried a triple for a 21-36 Zvezda lead midway through the second quarter. McCarty joined the three-point festival while Lampe hit 4 free throws to get Khimki within 28-41. Dragicevic stepped up with a put-back layup while Gurovic scored off a steal and buried another three-pointer, good for a 32-48 Zvezda lead. Lampe hit free throws while Dragicevic and McCarty traded triples to fix the halftime score at 37-51.
Antic scored right after the break and then followed Misanovic's basket with a layup to give Zvezda its biggest lead that far, 39-57. McCarty tried to change things with free throws, but Radivojevic answered with a layup and Milosevic buried a triple from the right wing to make it a 20-point game, 42-62, after 23 minutes. Khimki kept struggling to score while a red hot Milosevic shined with a three-point play. Okulaja shined with 4 unanswered points but Zvezda kept its momentum going. The guests found a new go-to guy, who scored 6 quick points on free throws and a layup for a 50-71 Zvezda lead. Antic and Ruben Wolkowyski dunked it, while free throws by McCarty and Pozzecco brought Khimki within 57-73 after three quarters. The outcome of the series was already clear but Khimki kept trying to rally in its last 10 minutes in the ULEB Cup season. Wolkowyski shined with a three-point play, igniting a 9-3 run in which Okulaja had 6 points to get Khimki within 66-76. Popovic and Lampe exchanged baskets but free throws by Milosevic gave Zvezda a 68-80 margin with 5 minutes to go. Gurovic shined with consecutive triples, as Zvezda not only left Russia with a quarterfinals spot, but sent a message which echoed all around the ULEB Cup with this resounding road win.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007