Caja Laboral dismissed BC Khimki 89-81
Caja Laboral survived a make-or-break battle and stayed alive in the fight to reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 from Group A by downing BC Khimki Moscow Region 89-81 in Vitoria, Spain on Thursday. Caja Laboral is now fifth in Group A with a 3-5 record, one win behind from Partizan mt:s and Khimki, who are tied for third place at 4-4. Mirza Teletovic led the winners with 23 points. David Logan added 17, Fernando San Emeterio had 14 and Marcelinho Huertas 12 for Laboral. Keith Langford led Khimki with 19 points. Sergey Monya and Zoran Planinic each added 17 for the guests. An outstanding Teletovic and a big triple by Huertas allowed Laboral to get a 27-20 lead after 10 minutes. Laboral boosted its margin to 47-37 at halftime and then again to 72-55 after 30 minutes. Khimki kept trying, but Laboral only allowed its opponents to rally once the outcome was clear and took the tiebreak advantage between both teams.
Marcus Haislip opened fire for the hosts sinking a short jumper over Langford, but Khimki used Kresimir Loncar to react. The big man punished Stanko Barac twice, scoring a layup and a couple of free throws for an early 2-4 Khimki lead. The hosts tried to set a fast tempo, with Brad Oleson and San Emeterio scoring a pair of layups to return the lead back to Laboral 8-7. The game had a great rhythm at this point, as both offenses managed to find open shots for their scorers. Benjamin Eze took over for the visitors with 4 points in a row allowing Khimki to retain a short advantage midway through the first period. Sergey Monya made it a 2-point game after an open three, but Logan became the go-to guy for the hosts, both scoring and assisting. Haislip took advantage of that to slam it down and nail another three right after to put Laboral up 19-16. Teletovic came up big after that, pouring in another trey followed by a layup to extend the margin to 24-19 with a minute remaining. Loncar went back to the line to stop the bleeding, but it was just a glass of water in the desert, as Huertas sunk another three to send the game to the break with Laboral dominating 27-20.
San Emeterio kept rocking for Laboral, hitting twice for the first double-digit lead of the night, 31-20, early in the second quarter. Khimki struggled in offense, unable to find anyone inside the paint and wasting its offenses with missed three-point attempts and turnovers. It was a well-known player in Vitoria, Zoran Planinic, who tried to change the trend with a layup, but Huertas fired back with a basket-plus-foul to raise the difference to 12 points. Monya came to the rescue with a monster fastbreak dunk and a nice triple to awake the visitors, followed by a pair of free throws by Vitaly Fridzon to bring Khimki within 38-29 with four minutes to play in the half. The visitors switched to zone defense right after that, but Huertas broke it quite easily on his first attempt. Logan followed him with a corner three, as Khimki kept adding points from the line to prevent the hosts from escaping. Fridzon found the net from behind the arc to reduce the gap to 43-35 with two minutes to go, but Logan remained hot and hit again from downtown to return a safe 11-point lead to the hosts entering the last minute. Teletovic hit once from the line and Langford answered with a smooth jumper right after that to close the first half with Caja Laboral comfortably settled on a 10-point cushion, 47-37.
Both teams started in a strong way after intermission. San Emeterio made a layup-plus-one, followed by a difficult three and a great jumper off the drive by Langford to make it 50-42 two minutes into the period. Teletovic returned the 10-points edge to Laboral off the offensive rebound, as a technical foul called on Langford turned into a pair of free throws and a layup by Logan that allowed the hosts to escape 56-42 a few seconds later. Planinic took over for Khimki, hitting from downtown first and scoring a fastbreak layup off the steal later to reduce the gap to 9 points, 56-47, with five minutes remaining. Khimki felt short, though, as Teletovic and Oleson provided some fresh air to Laboral offense to abort the comeback. Differences remained stable for a while, with both squads looking too much for one-on-one situations with their perimeter players. Teletovic showed up with a difficult and well guarded three to raise the advantage again to 14 points, 66-52, as Khimki showed exhausted against the increasing defensive effort of the hosts. Oleson hit a corner jumper followed by a pair of free throws by Huertas for a 70-52 lead entering the last minute. Despite Lopez went for a three right after that, Huertas buried a short jumper to keep Khimki far away, 72-55, at the end of the third period.
Although Khimki raised its defensive level in the early going, the hosts found Teletovic and San Emeterio to answer the points provided by Planinic and Loncar. As such, Caja Laboral retained a safe margin, 79-63, four minutes into the quarter. The point-difference became a factor at that point, as the visitors knew that a loss by less than 4 points would count as a win too. Langford and Monya combined for three free throws in a row that gave some air to the visitors, but they found no continuity and allowed Laboral to get back a 17-point margin with four minutes to go. Khimki didn’t give up, though, knowing that each possession was important. Planinic scored a layup off the offensive rebound and Lopez followed him from the line to reduce it to 83-70. It turned the last attempt of Khimki, though, as Teletovic scored twice into the paint to seal the outcome and confirm a tie-breaker advantage. Langford and Planinic did their best to try to get their team closer, but there was no place for miracle this time. Oleson and Langford exchanged baskets in the last minute to finish the game with an 89-81 home win.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Natxo Mendaza; Vitoria, Spain