Khimki Moscow Region is just one step away from its second Eurocup title after drubbing Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas 91-66 in Game 1 of the Eurocup Finals on Friday at Gran Canaria Arena.
Khimki hosts Game 2 of the two-game total-points series next week knowing that a win – or a loss by up to 24 points – will make it the 2015 Eurocup champion and hand it a berth in the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season.
Egor Vyaltsev scored a season-high 18 points and Petteri Koponen also netted 18 points, while Paul Davis tallied 17 points and Eurocup MVP Tyrese Rice totaled 13 points and 5 assists for Khimki, which shot at a blistering pace; It’s 72.2% on two-point shots set a Eurocup Finals record.
Khimki also made 47.8% of its threes and outrebounded the hosts 25-34. Kyle Kuric scored 23 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting and Eulis Baez added 18 points and 7 rebounds for Gran Canaria in defeat.
Davis had 10 first-quarter points and got help from Vyaltsev and Rice to give Khimki a 19-21 edge after 10 minutes. Koponen led a 0-8 run, which made it a double-digit game, 19-29. Vyaltsev kept pacing Khimki, but Kuric and a three-point play by Oriol Pauli got Gran Canaria within 33-40 at halftime. Gran Canaria found a go-to guy in Baez, who almost singlehandedly brought the hosts back into the series, 47-49.
Davis stepped up for Khimki and a buzzer-beating jumper by Koponen restored a 54-59 lead after 30 minutes. Vyaltsev made a pair of threes and Koponen scored 7 points in a 1-16 charge to open the fourth quarter as Khimki ran away with the game – and possibly, the series.
Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis:
“I’m really happy that we had one of the best games of our season in the final. It’s like a double victory. I want to thank our players, because we had a lot of problems with injuries, but everyone that was on the court gave 100% effort and the result was what you saw. Now I think we have really good chances with the last game at home and this 25-point advantage. We must focus because we took this first step towards the cup and must take the second one. This game is history and we have to look to the future and have the same effort that we had in this game. I don’t think it will be a problem to have the players concentration. ”
Gran Canaria coach Aito Reneses Garcia:
“First of all, congratulations to Khimki. They played much better than us and that is the most important thing. We can analyze the mistakes we made, but the most important thing is that they played much better than us. Our main mistakes were to start the game with too much respect, which didn’t allow us to play at our usual level when we were fresh. They took advantage of it and that was our first mistake. Then we have to agree that we arrived in a bad physical condition at the end of the game. Their physical power and speed allowed them to break the game, hitting 7 of 8 three-point shots in the fourth quarter. There was a moment, midway through the fourth quarter, in which the team was frustrated. I tried to tell them that this game was not the end of the series and that nothing was lost by losing at home, but the team was frustrated. What we have to do when you reach a final in such a big competition, and you play against a team that does as well as Khimki did, you don’t have to be sad. I gave my players an example: if I play a chess game against any of you and win, I can be very happy, but if I lose against the world champion, do I have to be sad? It is logical to lose. We have to use this to learn; we don’t have the physical strength, speed or talent that some of their players have, but we have use this to learn and avoid keeping our head down with this loss.”
Source: Eurocup Basketball