Rice And Shved Deliver In Game One

Khimki Moscow Region defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar at home in Game 1 of the playoff quarterfinals, 86-80. The outcome was decided in the final minute with Khimki capitalizing on its opportunities to secure a vital win.

The series featured a rematch of last season's semifinalists, opening in Moscow Region. Both teams had key players missing: Khimki lost James Augustine and Paul Davis to injury, while Lokomotiv had to go without Malcolm Delaney and Anthony Randolph.

Krasnodar seized an early advantage, imposing a measured halfcourt game. Lacking depth in the frontcourt, Khimki struggled to score, hampered by a slow start from Tyrese Rice and Alexey Shved.

Loko was led by Ryan Broekhoff. The Australian knocked down 19 points (7-11 from the field, including 5-8 from downtown) in 19 minutes in the first half. His confidence was contagious, helping the visitors take a 14-point advantage in the 2nd quarter.

But Khimki refused to go down easy. Tyler Honeycutt got the home team going with a three, before Rice and Shved combined for five more in three minutes to put Moscow Region on top at halftime, 42-41.

After switching sides, the game began anew. Lokomotiv head coach Georgios Bartzokas was ejected early in the second half for a heated dispute with the officials. Broekhoff, meanwhile, went ice-cold. The Railwaymen also converted only two free throws in the first 30 minutes, but despite all that Loko's defense kept the visitors in the game, setting up a dramatic finish.

Turning Point
It all came down to the final minute. Trailing by one, Sergey Bykov tried to put his team on top, but his layup attempt dropped off the rim. The Yellow-Blues answered with a fast-break dunk from Shved. On Loko's next possession, Chris Singleton had a wide-open '3' but couldn't get it to fall. Honeycutt, meanwhile, pulled down the rebound and knocked down a free throw after being fouled. Krasnodar's comeback hopes were dashed for good after Victor Claver missed twice at the charity stripe. Rice sealed the win with two free throws, 86-80, putting Khimki on top 1-0 in the best-of-five series.

Star Player
Tyrese Rice. The point guard had an excellent game, though backcourt partner Alexey Shved also contended for MVP honors. Rice finished with 31 points and three assists, while Shved had 26 points and six assists. No one else on Khimki's roster scored in double digits.

Stat of the Game
16 - number of Khimki 3-pointers (55%). Both teams attacked from outside, but Khimki was a bit better than Kuban (43%). Six straight 3-pointers in the 2nd quarter helped the Yellow-Blues erase an early deficit and regain the momentum.

Khimki head coach Dusko Ivanovic:
- That was a very tough game. We knew that we were playing one of the top teams in Europe this season and a Euroleague Final Four participant. Our opponent is very good on defense, shows patience, and can execute with precision, which is tough to counter. I think we had too much respect for our visitors at the start of the game, but in the 2nd quarter we changed our attitude and began playing better on defense. We found opportunities for easy shots and played with more urgency. In the end, this evenly-matched battle was essentially decided by one defensive possession and shot.

Lokomotiv-Kuban assistant head coach Sasha Grujic:
- Congratulations to Khimki on the win and to the fans who came to the game on this big Orthodox holiday. We came here to compete, but we are dealing with a very tough calendar. We've had 13 games in 30 days, both in the VTB League and Euroleague. Given that workload, it's tough to compete against Khimki, which had more time to prepare. Nonetheless, we battled and didn't spoil the basketball holiday. We hope we can play even better in upcoming games.

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