Khimki crush Real on Euroleague basketball debut
Khimki couldn't have asked for a tougher start for their first ever Euroleague campaign. Real Madrid are now headed by Ettore Messina.
The Italian, of course, spent four very successful years with the Moscow team’s perennial rivals, CSKA, leading them to two Euroleague title.
And Jorge Garbajosa would have known more than one or two things about the Russian side as well, since the rookie Real man played for Khimki last season.
Khimki established a small advantage towards the end of the quarter, but the visitors, thanks to some good work in the paint, were never far behind, as the home side would take a 3 point lead going into the second, 17-14.
Khimki were playing well and continued to put pressure on the visitors defense, going into the half time break with a 39-32 lead.
And the Russian side's advantage could have been even bigger, had it not been for Real's Darius Larinovic, who was having a fine game.
Real upped their game in the third quarter, and began to eat into the home side's lead as they went on a 7-point run.
Ettore Messina's team went in front for the first time, but Khimki, kept in touch, and some later baskets, saw them go into the final 10 minutes with a one point lead, 53-52.
Lavrinovic, who would finish with a game high 32 points and 11 rebounds, looked like he might bring Real victory on his own – such was his influence on the game.
But back came the Yellows, and they opened up a 5-point lead with just two minutes to go, until Real came back, forcing an overtime.
The visitors started the extra five minutes the stronger, but with time running out, the Euroleague debutants stepped up a gear to open up a four point advantage. And there was to be no way back for Real Madrid as Khimki recorded a famous 84-81 victory.
“It was my first Euroleague game so I was very excited. The energy around the club has been there all week, while we were preparing for this game. I just think [the win against Real] gives a message to other people in the Euroleague that it’s going to be tough playing against Khimki teams,” Khimki’s Keith Langford said.
An unhappy Russian return for Ettore Messina, as he saw his side crash to a narrow three-point defeat, while Real's Travis Hansen, who also used to play in Russia, was philosophical.
“It was an important game for us to win. Obviously, they came out and played really well – played really well at home. And we made a few mistakes that cost us the game,” Real’s Travis Hansen commented.
A really gutsy performance by Khimki, who start their campaign with a win, but it won't get any easier. Up next for the Yellow's is an away trip to Greece for a match with the defending Euroleague Champions, Panathanikos.