Khimki Moscow past Panathinkaikos in a hustle

It has been a heated game between Khimki Moscow and Panathinaikos at the Mytishchi Arena. The Russian team had a solid performance, Anthony Gill made 21 points and Jordan Mickey had 14, but a consistent defence helped edge Panathinaikos. Khimki improved to 4-6 in the standings, whereas Panathinaikos dropped to 5-5.

In the first period, Khimki went ahead 3-0 with an assist by Anthony Gill to Charles Jenkins who didn’t hesitate to drill from long range. Panathinaikos responded with an easy layup by Lojeski after a good back-screen by Gist. Malcolm Thomas battled firstly against Lasme on the paint and then hit a three-point shoot for the 10-4 lead. The two centers seemed to challenge each other either on the paint or from long-range. High shoot percentages and bad defence improved the offensive statistics. Calathes set off an assist for Lojeski who drilled from 3, cutting the deficit 13-11. Keith Langford got a foul, after a jump step, nailing a four-point play and tying the game at 23-23. However, with one minute to go, Khimki re-established the gap with Sergei Monia first, and with a wide open in the corner by Stephan Merkovic later for the 29-25 on the run.

In the second quarter, Keith Langford served an assist for Thomas who hit the jump- shot cutting the deficit to -1. Khimki reacted with an outstanding dunk by Jordan Mickey. But James Gist hit a nonsense off rhythm 3 pointer, for the 31-33 lead. Panathinaikos had the momentum, Thomas bounced the ball for Nikos Pappas who drilled a dunk, stretching the lead to five, 33-38. Another turnover for Panathinaikos led to a fastbreak, but Monia slammed Langford on the arm. The American nailed the two free throws for the 33-40 lead. Khimi offset the Greek squad with Mickey in a rapid escalation so far, who, set off by Green, made it from 3. Again an extra-pass from Markovic found Gill in a trailer who reduced the gap 38-40. Khimki came back definitely in the game, and a clumsy foul committed by Georgios Papagiannis let Mickey go for an easy score and a foul for the 43-40 lead. In the last play, even Zaitsev had his first meaningful touch for a crucial 48-44.

In the third quarter, Lojeski continued to be awful from downtown for the 48-47 lead. Anthony Gill in the low-post finished up strongly over Lasme for 50-47. Calathes, utterly in bad shape, struggled to find a good rhythm and stayed scoreless for more than half of the game. Lukas Lekavicius dished a nice pass for Gist who threw it down over Gill. Whereas Pana tried to stay in the game, Jenkins responded with an effortlessly shot from downtown for the 55-48. Subsequently, Thomas with a wide-open vision found Gill for an easy lay-up which visibly upset the head coach of Panathinaikos Xavi Pascual. The game started to slip away for Panathinaikos, despite a very good defensive play by Lasme and Langford who rejected a layup by Jenkins. At the end of the third quarter, Bost went on one-on-one and handed-back for Thomas who scored 59-51, the biggest point lead so far.

In the fourth period, Keith Langford, after a switch, was obliged to hit the 3 and moved on the 16 points. Khimki had a good patience as a team, Bost drove baseline and finally passed to Mickey who brought the lead back at + 8. An extra pass delivered by Langford for Thomas who hit the 3, cutting the deficit to five, 62-57. Mickey got a mismatch with Calathes who did nothing but let him move on 12 points. Khmiki, seemingly in control, found Monia who didn’t miss from deep for the 67-59. Langford tried to react and after a swift penetration missed the jump but Gist was ready to tip down for 67-61. Panathinaikos struggled to find easy buckets, Calathes didn’t serve many assists to this teammates and Langford seemed to faint. Another miss shot by Calathes was cleaned out by Gist for the 74-67. In the last minute to go, Langford didn’t manage to overturn the game for Panathinaikos which lost 76-68.