Cash-strapped Khimki light up Euroleague
By Zoran Milosavljevic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - The princes and paupers of Europe's premier club basketball competition celebrated wins in the latest round of matches with Khimki Moscow stealing the show from more illustrious and wealthier city rivals CSKA on Friday.
Both teams moved a step closer to the playoffs after Khimki ended a week-long strike over unpaid wages with an 88-67 home whitewash of quadruple Euroleague winners Maccabi Tel Aviv while CSKA enjoyed an 87-73 away rout of Lithuanians Zalgiris Kaunas.
Caja Laboral Vitoria continued their impressive recovery after losing six of their opening seven games, romping to a 97-75 win at Fenerbahce Istanbul for a seventh straight success.
Khimki's players, having trained individually all week after refusing to do so under the club's management, returned with a vengeance and blew away Maccabi after overcoming an early nine-point deficit on the back of 20 points by forward Kelvin Rivers.
Fellow American Paul Davis scored 16 points and Finnish playmaker Petteri Koponen added 15 for Khimki, a club from the outskirts of Russia's capital who were founded in 1997 and last year won the Eurocup, the continent's second-tier competition.
"Frankly speaking I didn't expect that we would manage to come together in such a perfect way and I am very happy with the job we did on the court today," Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis told the competition's official website (www.euroleague.net).
Forward James Augustine added: "The team came together and scored a very important home victory after a slow start. Our bench played an incredible game and everyone contributed."
The result left Khimki with a 3-1 record in their section of the top 16, comprising two pools of eight teams playing each other home and away on a round-robin basis, with every chance of reaching the knockout stage for the first time. Continued...