A classic 7DAYS EuroCup duel makes its jump to the big stage as Valencia Basket (3-6) welcomes Khimki Moscow Region (6-3) to Spain on Thursday. After a struggling start, Valencia has managed to win three of its last four games, the last two in a row, the last one at home against Zenit St Petersburg in a thriller. Khimki seems much more consistent but comes off a blowout loss at Real Madrid and will look to get back on the winning track in its second game of the week in Spain.
This will be just the third time that Valencia and Khimki face each other in the EuroLeague. In the 2017-18 season, both teams traded home wins. However, in the EuroCup, both teams forged a classic rivalry. The last time they faced each other there was in the 2016-17 quarterfinals series, which Valencia won by 2-1. They also faced each other in the 2011-12 EuroCup title game, won by Khimki.
It will be a duel of sharpshooters in the backcourt when Valencia and Khimki clash on Thursday, as Jordan Loyd and Alexey Shved are the main contributors to their respective teams. Loyd averages 12.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists off the bench for Valencia and he has quickly become a key piece of the puzzle in his debut year with the team. Shved remains one of the best scorers in the league and boosts Khimki with his 20.2 points, 5.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds as an undisputed starter. After a modest 12 points against Madrid, Shved will be anxious to reload. Loyd has been capable of scoring outbursts that would rival Shved, and the Valencia fans will be waiting for another on Thursday.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Valencia is on a roll after a rough start, and will want to keep the party going at home. The first worry that coach Jaume Ponsarnau will have is Shved, of course. But Khimki is so much more than him. The guests boast the third-best offense in the league and basically outperform Valencia on all fronts except for steals. Valencia will have to look again for the collective effort and do many things right to defeat one of the top teams in the competition. La Fonteta will be there giving the extra push, the rest is up to Valencia and the focus that it brings to the game.
Keys to victory: Khimki
After a brilliant start, Khimki has dropped two of its last four games, and that is a wakeup call not to take any games in the EuroLeague for granted. Going into the game Khimki has the upper hand in virtually every aspect of the game, so the main trio of Shved, Jonas Jerebko and Devin Booker will try to remain the solid pillar they have been for Khimki. As of now, Khimki gives up more points per game than Valencia, but the hosts have the second-weakest numbers from beyond the arc in the league, so the guests will probably try to exploit that.