Khimki Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan at home, 72-71 (26-17, 12-19, 11-13, 23-22).
Khimki: Alexey Shved (24 + 6 ast), James Anderson (11), Charles Jenkins (10)
Astana: Anthony Clemmons (16 + 6 reb), Justin Carter (14 + 6 ast + 3 stl), Leonidas Kaselakis (12), Ike Udanoh (10 + 6 reb)
Alexey Shved did most of the heavy lifting for Khimki, scoring a game-high 24 points to help his team survive an upset bid from Astana.
Shved scored the final nine points of the game for Khimki, including a 6-6 performance at the line with the game in the balance.
Even so, Astana nearly escaped with a win. Trailing 72-71 with 2.5 seconds to play, Ike Udanoh was fouled on a layup attempt. But the big man couldn’t deliver, missing twice to give Khimki the win.
Khimki entered with a 3-0 record and began the game in control, opening up a 26-17 lead at the end of one. Astana responded with defense, limiting the home team to only 23 points over the next two periods. That allowed the visitors to knot the score at 49-apiece entering the 4th.
Trailing by as much as six in the final period, Khimki’s offense finally roared to life. James Anderson converted on a three-point play, Charles Jenkins hit a go-ahead triple and Moscow Region looked likely to put the game away, if not for the heroics of Anthony Clemmons.
Clemmons drilled two 3-pointers down the stretch, plus a pair of free throws with eight seconds remaining that gave Astana its final lead, but Shved was able to convert at the other end and help keep Khimki unbeaten in League competition. Despite a gritty performance, Astana drops to 0-4.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) October 30, 2017
14 – Khimki sank 14 straight free throws to finish the game. The home team needed every single one of them.
Khimki head coach Georgios Bartzokas:
– Today was an excellent opportunity to understand what kind of team we have right now as well as understand what we need to work on and which fundamentals to emphasize. Once again, we didn’t look great in the opening 20 minutes. Our attitude about the game was completely wrong. I’d go so far as to call it nightmare-ish. We didn’t think about defense, passing the ball. We were solid enough on offense. In the end, we gave Astana a chance. They are a very good, athletic team that’s patient on the attack. There was an excellent chance they would win, but in the end we won and should be happy about it because every game matters. To be honest, I’m very happy today. Tomorrow, I’ll tell the players at practice that our performance in the first 20 minutes was reminiscent of how small teams play.
Astana head coach Kostas Flevarakis:
– I think this game showed everyone the type of team we have and the type of qualities our players possess. We controlled the momentum in the game for 40 minutes, despite playing against an opponent that averages 98 points per game in the League. I really like Khimki, but unfortunately, we missed our chance in the final seconds by not hitting our free throws. What happened at the line. It’s a game, that’s the only explanation. We did what we wanted. At the same time, you need to understand that we started preparing for the season a little later than everyone else since we had a tournament in China and later had to play without five important guys. Our first game in the League came against CSKA. People who understand basketball realize that Astana’s play right now is a miracle, since we had very little time to prepare. We need wins. We are trying and looking forward to upcoming games. I especially want to underline that my players battled in a big game today and didn’t think they couldn’t win. At the same time, we were playing a powerhouse like Khimki who’d won three games to open the EuroLeague. That tells you how good the team is.
Khimki: November 6 home vs. CSKA
Astana: November 5 away vs. Parma