The VTB United League semi-final stage opened on Wednesday as Khimki Moscow Region played host to Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and came away with a win. The series opener pitted two Eurocup highflyer’s together, but it was Khimki that has carried the most form this season and claimed a 76-75 win. However, Lokomotiv displayed the kind of grit and fight we have come to expect from the team and proved why they cannot be discounted in this last four series.
Khimki, off the back of an impressive regular season and of course winning the Eurocup, looked strong in the opening quarter and managed to carve a 20-18 lead through ten minutes. In the second frame the hosts carried the momentum with a 20-17 winning frame, enough for a 40-35 lead through the long break. In the third quarter the game remained tight, but Lokomotiv started to unlock the hosts more, tying the period 21 apiece to make it 61-56 after thirty minutes on the hardwood. In the final act the Krasnodar club scared Khimki with a 15-19 run, but ultimately fell short of a full comeback.
Eurocup big hitters turned up for Khimki, with Petteri Koponen topping the winners with 18 points, while Tyrese Rice added 17 points and Paul Davis scored 16 points.
Malcom Delaney was the pick of the bunch for Lokomotiv as he hit a game high 22 points. Derrick Brown added 16 points to the losing effort, followed by Nikita Kurbanov with 10 points.