Polonara shines, Baskonia downs Khimki
TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz protected its home court, racing away in the second half to down visiting Khimki Moscow Region 77-60 at Fernando Buesa Arena on Friday night. Baskonia improved to 2-1, while Khimki dropped to 0-4. The teams traded blows in the first half, before Achille Polonara and Luca Vildoza put Baskonia up for good early in the third quarter, and the hosts closed out the game with a 15-4 run. Polonara shined with a career performance of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals, while Rokas Giedraitis also scored 20 points and had 4 steals. Vildoza scored 15 in the winning effort. Vyacheslav Zaytsev led Khimki with an all-round performance, collecting 17 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Devin Booker had 16 points plus 12 rebounds, and Jonas Jerebko had 12 points and 9 rebounds playing all 40 minutes in a defeat.
Sergey Karasev and Egor Vialtsev both hit early three-pointers for the visitors, but Polonara go the hosts going before a transition triple from Giedraitis made it 15-14. A pair of baskets from Booker at the end of the first quarter made it 15-18, but Giedraitis and Polonara hit back-to-back threes at the start of the second. The teams exchanged blows and traded leads, with Zaytsev pulling the strings and Booker scoring more for the visitors, before Polonara nailed another triple for Baskonia. Tonye Jekiri helped the hosts open a 33-26 lead, but Zaytsev fueled a 0-10 run, hitting a triple himself and setting up Dairis Bertans for a corner three, to help Khimki take a 35-36 advantage into halftime. Baskonia stepped up on defense in the third quarter, while Vildoza and Giedraitis took it to the rim to open a 43-38 edge. Jerebko knocked down a triple, but Vildoza sparked a 7-0 run, capping it with a triple to make it 50-43. Bertans drove to the rim to snap the hosts' run, but Polonara's fastbreak dunk made it 54-47 after 30 minutes. Zaytsev hit a three-pointer early in the fourth, but Zoran Dragic scored on a fast break, Jekiri dunked and Polonara tipped in to open a 52-43 lead with 6 minutes left. Jerebko hit a corner three, but Vildoza answered right back with back-to-back three-pointers, and Dragic hit a step-back triple to make it 73-58 in the penultimate minute, sealing the deal.
Achille Polonara entered the game having never scored more than 10 points in a EuroLeague contest. He had 14 in the first quarter, and finished with 20 points, double his previous career-high. Polonara made 7 of 12 two-pointers, and 2 of 4 threes. He pulled down 10 rebounds for his first double-double, tied another career-best with 6 offensive boards, and set more new career-highs with 4 steals and 27 PIR.
Baskonia visibly stepped up on defense at the start of the second half. After Khimki went 10-for-14 for two-pointers in the first two quarters, the hosts held them to 6-for-20 in the second half. Baskonia also forced 21 turnovers in this game.
Zaytsev shines again
Vyacheslav Zaytsev was the main reason Khimki stayed in striking range for so long. He scored 17 points, dished 8 assists, had a career high 6 rebounds, and also delivered on the defensive ends with 2 blocks and steals apiece. His PIR 26 also tied his career-high. And that came just two days after he set a career high in scoring with 26 points in Wednesday’s loss at Real Madrid.
Khimki arrived at Baskonia with only 10 players, and coach Kurtinaitis could not use team captain Sergey Monia who got hurt during the warm up. On the other side, Alec Peters remained on Baskonia bench the entire game after picking up an ankle injury during a warm up.
Next week in Round 5, Baskonia will travel to face ALBA Berlin (1-3) on Thursday while Khimki will be at home when it welcomes Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (1-3) on Friday.
Friday, October 16, 2020