Khimki And Loko: Next Stop - CSKA

Khimki Moscow Region defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar on the road, 86-71, in Game 3 of the playoff quarterfinals. The first half was evenly matched before Khimki broke through in the 3rd quarter, overpowering a short-handed Lokomotiv roster. The Yellow-Blues went on to complete the series sweep, advancing to play CSKA in the playoff semifinals, while Loko awaits a Euroleague Final Four showdown with the Army Men.

After dropping Games 1 and 2 in Moscow Region, Krasnodar faced elimination. Anthony Randolph returned to the lineup for Game 3, though the Railwaymen remained without Malcolm Delaney (Khimki played without big men James Augustine and Paul Davis).

Despite Randolph's return, Loko started the game with an unconventional lineup: Matt Janning at point guard and Grigory Shukhovstev at center. Early on, the strategy worked. Making only his sixth appearance of the season, Shukhovtsev had a big impact, helping Loko seize the lead. Andrey Zubkov was also instrumental, knocking down three of his first four 3-point attempts.

At the other end, Tyrese Rice scored 11 points in the opening period, helping Khimki cut Loko's lead to one, 23-22, at the end of 10 minutes.

While Khimki picked up a two-point lead by halftime, Krasnodar was kept alive by Russian backup Maxim Kolyushkin. The athletic guard scored 12 points in the first half, making sure his team didn't lose touch with the visitors.

Khimki combined for 33 3-pointers in the first two games, but for much of Game 3, the tables were turned. Struggling from outside, Khimki instead locked down on defense, limiting the home team to a measly 10 points in the 3rd quarter. As a result, Moscow Region cruised into the final period with a commanding 18-point lead.

Nothing changed in the 4th quarter. Lokomotiv failed to threaten, scoring only 19 points to lose by 15 and suffer elimination from the VTB United League playoffs.

Both teams move on to face CSKA. Khimki will take on the Army Men in the league semifinals (Game 1 is scheduled for May 19 in Moscow), while Loko awaits a Final Four showdown in Berlin on May 13. Today, however, marked Lokomotiv's final home game of the season with the domestic campaign coming to a close.

Star Player
Tyrese Rice. The Khimki point guard starred in the first two games and continued to shine on Friday. Kuban couldn't figure out how to stop him as Rice erupted for 19 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals with zero turnovers.

Stat of the Game
16 - Khimki's advantage in the 3rd quarter. The other three periods were decided by three or less points.

Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Georgios Bartzokas:
- Congratulations to Khimki on reaching the VTB United League semifinals. Unfortunately, we weren't able to prepare for this matchup after a five-game series with Barcelona and the game against Zenit in late April. Our leaders were also nursing injuries and we had to protect them in order to avoid making matters worse before the Final Four. I'm sad that our final home game ended up like this, but we will do everything we can to match our fans' expectations in Berlin.

Khimki head coach Dusko Ivanovic:
- All three games in the series were similar. We didn't start today's game very well, but then we settled down on offense and played okay on defense. In the end, we won this round convincingly. Now we have time to rest and prepare for the semifinals with CSKA. We'll think about the Army Men in a few days, but it's already obvious that they have a very strong team, one of the best in Europe. But my players want to be in the finals and we will battle.