Valencia fights off Khimki’s challenge
In a highly entertaining game that went down to the wire, Valencia Basket held off the visiting Khimki Moscow Region 85-83 on Friday to register its fourth win in the last six games. Valencia improved to 7-13 record on the season, while Khimki dropped to 11-9 and a share of the seventh place in the standings. It was a game that featured 16 lead changes and 12 ties, and neither team went ahead by more than 7 points. That team was Valencia, up 18-11 early in the first quarter, but after that the two teams went blow for blow. Valencia finally took the lead for good in the fourth quarter, but needed Alberto Abalde and Erick Green to hit key baskets down the stretch to hold onto its slim lead. Tibor Pleiss led the winners with 15 points plus 9 rebounds. Green scored 11 and Abalde 10 points for Valencia, which played without Bojan Dubljevic and also lost Sam Van Rossom, who had 7 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, to injury in the third quarter. Alexey Shved scored 22 points on 6-for-13 three-pointers for Khimki, which as a team hit 15 triples on a club-record 39 three-point attempts. Tyler Honeycutt scored 15 points and James Anderson added 12 points and 7 rebounds in defeat.
The first four baskets of the game were triples, Rafa Martinez and Will Thomas hitting them for Valencia and Anderson and Shved nailing one each for Khimki. Charles Jenkins hit a corner three for the visitors, too, but a tip-in by Pleiss and a fastbreak layup by Will Thomas gave Valencia 12-9 lead. Pleiss had an alley-oop dunk-plus-free throw that helped extend the margin to 18-11, but Anderson hit a triple and Shved connected twice consecutively from deep, helping Khimki take a 20-22 lead. Green had a three-pointer and Anthony Gill a massive dunk to make it 23-24 after 10 minutes. Abalde had a triple for Valencia and Honeycutt a dunk for Khimki at the start of the second quarter as teams continued trading blows. Honeycutt traded triples next with Joan Sastre, who returned from injury for Valencia. Will Thomas made a reverse layup that had Valencia up 35-31, but Honeycutt had a fastbreak dunk and a corner triple to make it 35-36. Andrey Zubkov and Van Rossom traded threes as Valencia regained a one-possession lead. Tryggvi Hlinason added to the hosts' tally, before Gill scored in the final seconds to make it 46-44 at halftime.
Things continued in the similar rhythm after the break. Pleiss scored 6 points for the hosts, but Anderson and Malcolm Thomas tied at 52-52. Fernando San Emeterio hit a corner triple, but after Valencia lost Van Rossom, Stefan Markovic and Shved hitting consecutive transition triples to put Khimki ahead 59-61. Green hit a long jumper, and Hlinason converted an easy shot, but Sergey Monia nailed a three that had Khimki lead 63-64 going into the fourth quarter. Green had a triple-plus-free throw that put the hosts back into a slim lead before Shved answered from downtown to make it 67-69. That, however, would be Khimki's last lead. Abalde hit from long distance and made a jumper. Aaron Doornekamp knocked down a triple of his own, and Pleiss hit a baseline jumper to open a 77-71 lead that Sastre and San Emeterio aided with a runner apiece. Honeycutt tried to lift the visitors from downtown and Markovic raced for a fastbreak layup to make it 81-80. But then Green hit a jumper and Abalde followed with a fastbreak layup to open 85-80 margin with 1:35 to go. Khimki did not score for another minute, when Markovic cut it to 85-82, and Khimki did get one more possession in the final 10 second, but Will Thomas committed a smart foul on Shved before he managed to take a shot. Shved made his first and purposely missed the second free throw with 2.8 seconds to go, but Pleiss secured the rebound as time ran out.
Friday, January 26, 2018