Khimki’s Alexey Shved might have hit the game winner in their 91-89 win over CSKA Moscow, but team-mate Petteri Koponen believes that they can beat anybody in the Euroleague if they stick together as a unit.
So far, it’s a philosophy that has seen the Russian side beat the reigning Euroleague champions Real Madrid twice and now their nearest rivals from across the way in CSKA Moscow, who are once again considered to reach the Final Four in Berlin, next May.
Could Khimki be part of the festivities in the German capital, though?
Koponen, now in his fourth season with Khimki is amongst perhaps the deepest squad he has been with since joining in 2012 and believes that this year’s team can go further than the Top 16.
“That’s our team,” Koponen said. “In the second half we probably started to play more aggressively and came out with the confidence. In the first half CSKA made some tough shots and we missed some.
“After a big break we started to make more shots and played liked we can do. We have a lot of talent in this team and we played together.
“This is what we can do that we showed tonight. If we play like this we can beat everyone in this League. We have to be together, believe in ourselves and listen to our coach.”
But, the Top 16 is a marathon, not a sprint. City pride is a great thing, especially if you have just beaten CSKA Moscow, but Khimki now must put the win to bed and focus their attention on next week’s opponents, Barcelona, whom themselves are looking to bounce back following a loss in their Top 16 opener to Olympiacos.