Khimki got a win in a season-starting game on their homecourt against Zielona Gora – 79:75 (16:13, 24:18, 20:20, 19:24)
Khimki: Stefan Jovic (16 + 9 assists), Jonas Jerebko (14 + 9 rebounds), Jeremy Evans (12 + 5 rebounds).
Zielona Gora: Drew Gordon (16 + 6 rebounds), Ludvig Hakanson (13 + 5 assists), Marcel Ponitka (11 + 5 rebounds).
The way the game goes
Season-opening game couldn’t be a regular thing. Before the game started worldwide famous Latvian band Brainstorm had made a lot of fun for fans. Moreover, Khimki – Zielona Gora was the first game played with new ecological League’s official game ball. It should be stated that it also was the first basketball game in VTB-Arena (apart from VTB League All-Star Game last year).
Something new was noticeable even in the way the teams played. Significantly changed teams are trying to build team chemistry for now. Zielona Gora surprised a favoured to win team with 6-0 run, but then Khimki pulled themselves together and answered with consecutive threes from Dairis Bertans and Janis Timma (16:13 after first quarter).
Пас из-за спины? Пас не глядя? Это превосходно, Девин Букер 😍
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) September 25, 2019
Khimki took the lead in the beginning of the second quarter when Jeremy Evans finished alley-oop pass from Vyacheslav Zaitsev with terrific and-one slam, and then made a dunk after a stel – 21:13. Veterans Egor Vyaltsev and Sergey Monya helped the American, therefore home team was up by 9 to the halftime (40:31).
Stefan Jovic, who joined Khimki only a few days before the start of the season, helped his team to make another run, 7-0 in 2 minutes and 47:31 on the scoreboard. Polish team managed to bear a blow. Famous for his Zenit perfomance Drew Gordon and a rookie Marcel Ponitka put their team back in the game. Third quarter resulted in 20:20, Khimki were still up by 9.
In the beginning of the final quarter Jonas Jerebko showed them how it’s done. Latest NBA Finals participant shot the three, then blocked Tony Meier in a spectacular way and made an and-one slam – 66:51.
Zielona Gora made another comeback and was close to make a sensation. They showed tight defence, Gordon worked hard on the offensive boards, Joe Thomasson and Lucasz Koszarek hit 3-pointers, which helped them to cut Khimki’s lead to just 3, 75:78 one minute before the buzzer sounds.
In the next possession after a time-out Jerebko missed the three, so Zielona Gora had an opportunity to tie the game, but Khimki made a tremendous defensive effort cutting all ways to get to their basket. In Last 30 seconds Khimki calmly won the game – 79:75.
0 of 11 – Janis Timma beat Laegue’s most missed threes record.
5742 – this is the amount of fans visited season-opening game on VTB-Arena. This is Khimki’s best attendance result in VTB United League.
Stefan Jovic. Rimas Kurtinaitis complained about playmaker’s absence in team’s roster after few consecutive losses in the preseason. Serbian, who joined the team only a few days ago, solved the problem quickly. He scored the most points (16) and assists (9), furthermore, he made 6 of 8 from the field and made only one turnover.
Zielona Gora Head Coach Zan Tabak:
“We knew that Khimki had roster problems and saw it as our only chance to win. However, we started this game under Arena’s pressure and under the pressure of Khimki’s reputation in VTB League. Hence, we pulled ourselves together and made an effort to win the game. Now, our conditions are not matching our ambitions and possibilities. Our field goal percentage wasn’t good, as well as defence, but we managed to make it one-possession game and could win. That is already something. This is a good start for our team in this League”
Khimki Head Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis:
“I’m happy that we won. First game is never easy, especially if we take in consideration our preparation and preseason games. In fact, all team played together yesterday for the first time and 4 players can’t attend practices because of injuries. This year we traded 10 players and haven’t built team chemistry yet, this is our main problem. Moreover, bench players were making silly mistakes, which are unacceptable for 15 point lead. That’s not about pressure or responsibility, we should focus on our game, we were lacking it tonight. Most important thing is that we got a W”