Congratulations go out from BallinEurope this morning to the first entrant into Euroleague 2012-13, BC Khimki Moscow region, with their win over BC Valencia in the Eurocup championship game yesterday. In a possible Euroleague title-game preview – at least in terms of home bases – the Russian side topped the Spaniards, 77-68. In the consolation game, Lietuvos Rytas bagged a bronze medal in taking out Spartak St. Petersburg, 71-62.
Game highlights and official writeup of the final match follow.
(Euroleague) – BC Khimki Moscow Region won the Eurocup for the first time in club history on Sunday by downing Valencia Basket 77-68 in a thrilling final at Basketball Center of Moscow Region. Zoran Planinic was named Eurocup Finals MVP after amassing 19 points and four assists in 24 minutes for Khimki, which also secured a return ticket to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague for the 2012-13 season.
Khimki grabbed an early lead and then rode the red-hot Planinic to a 37-30 halftime lead. The duo of Serhiy Lishchuk and Nik Caner-Medley combined for all but one point in Valencia’s 13-2 third-quarter run, which put the visitors ahead 45-43. The teams then battled back and forth and arrived in the closing minutes tied up at 66 after a Caner-Medley three-pointer with 2:13 left. But Vitaly Fridzon answered with a huge three and Chris Quinn tacked on four free throws, while Valencia turned it over twice, a sequence which allowed Khimki to grab the win. Kresimir Loncar added 14 points and Quinn had 11 for the champs. Caner-Medley starred with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for Valencia, while tying a Eurocup title game record for performance index rating with 38. Lishchuk tallied 16 points in defeat.
Valencia came away with the first possession and Victor Claver converted that into the game’s first points from the line. Loncar got inside for Khimki’s first basket. Planinic then pulled up on the baseline to give Khimki its first lead at 4-2. An Egor Vyaltsev triple helped keep the hosts in control, though a Rafa Martinez drive and Stefan Markovic dish to an open Lishchuk kept Valencia close at 9-6. Caner-Medley further narrowed the gap from the line. Anton Pushkov managed to keep Khimki ahead a little longer with a basket from close range until Martinez hit from the corner and Nando De Colo nailed free throws to put Valencia ahead, 12-11. Loncar restored Khimki’s lead and Thomas Kelati extended it with a triple. Flo Pietrus responded from downtown to keep it close, 16-15, after 10 minutes.
Khimki started the second quarter strong, as Matt Nielsen dished to Fridzon for a hook shot and Planinic found Quinn for a short jumper. After Vitor Faverani scored for Valencia, Planinic lifted Khimki to 22-17. Faverani and Planinic traded scores again before the point guard went over Brad Newley in the post to lift Khimki to a seven point edge. After a hard Pietrus foul on Loncar, the latter made it 28-19.
Valencia got a basket back through Lishchuk inside. And De Colo set the big man up to draw the visitors within five. However, a picture perfect two-pass fast break from Nielsen to Quinn to Pushkov for a slam kept Khimki in control. Caner-Medley scored a three-point play, but a De Colo triple was ruled invalid after the 24-second clock expired. A Kelati steal led to an Alexey Zhukanenko slam as Khimki remained on top. Planinic picked off a Martinez pass and took it in for a two-handed slam and after De Colo’s free throws, the Khimki guard capped a brilliant first half with a rainbow jumper to leave his team on top 37-30 at the break.
Martinez continued the Valencia fight as he brought his team within five with the first points of the second half. Planinic picked up where he left off, however, with a pretty penetration to make it 41-32. Valencia refused to go away as Lishchuk converted a basket-plus-foul and Caner-Medley sank two from the line.
After a Zhukanenko slam, Lishchuk went through the Khimki big man for a basket, Zhukanenko’s third foul and a free throw to get within 43-40. Caner-Medley made it seven free throws without a miss to bring his team within one before handing off to Lishchuk, who put Valencia ahead in capping a 12-2 run in which these two players scored all the points.
Stefan Markovic added his first points from the line, but a three-pointer by Quinn put Khimki back on top. Loncar scored next, Martinez was called for a charge, and Loncar connected from the charity stripe to put the host team back ahead 50-45. Caner-Medley continued to fuel Valencia: His steal and slam was followed by free throws to knot the score at 50-50. Khimki snagged the lead at the end of the quarter thanks to a Kelati fadeaway at the buzzer.
Claver sank a three-pointer that restored a Valencia lead, only to see Planinic put Khimki back on top. Fridzon then stepped up with a layup off a Planinic pass and then a steal away from Caner-Medley for a Sergey Monya dunk that made it 58-53. A fourth foul on Planinic put the Khimki star in trouble. And moments later, Claver made sure to send Planinic to the bench with five fouls and 6½ minutes remaining.
A powerful Lishchuk slam closed the gap to three. Fouls continued to play a role as both Monya and Pietrus reached four. Mickael Gelabale’s first points came on a tip-in to put Khimki up five, but Caner-Medley quickly matched him. Then De Colo bettered a Loncar basket with a three to make it 62-60. After Loncar came up with another bucket, Caner-Medley hit his first triple to bring Valencia within 64-63. Quinn sank a clutch jumper before Caner-Medley stunned the Khimki crowd with a triple for a 66-66 tie.
Just after the two-minute mark, Fridzon nailed a big three for Khimki. Quinn sank a pair of big free throws to make it 71-66 with 86 seconds remaining. A costly De Colo turnover resulted in two more free throws for Quinn. Caner-Medley sank both for Valencia with 36 seconds left and a Pietrus steal gave Valencia a chance, but Gelabale rose high to block his countryman and Nielsen turned it into a slam at the other end as Khimki fans started to celebrate. Fridzon’s free throws with 15 seconds left iced the win as Khimki won the Eurocup title for 2012.