In Group D action of the FIBA Europe League this evening, third-place Khimik hosted seventh-place Exalco Olympia. With the pressure of maintaining their position for the playoffs looming over their heads, the home team got off to a sluggish start and quickly saw themselves down by six points.
Khimik snapped briefly back into action behind strong outside shooting from Andrius Lepinaitis and Serhiy Lishchuk. However with a couple of baskets by Doremus Bennerman, Exalco took a slight three-point advantage into the second quarter.
Throughout the second period Khimik remained unable to find their game which has helped them to five victories in the FIBA Europe League. Quickly amassing five team fouls with seven minutes remaining proved to be detrimental as the home team was outscored 11-1 at one stage. Behind 11 points by guard Bennerman, Exalco took a 35-43 lead into the locker room at the half.
After a stern halftime speech by Zvezdan Mitrovich, Khimik got their act together and forced several turnovers with their smothering defense. Behind strong defensive play and some assistance from the home crowd, Khimik went on to outscore their opponents 25-10 in the third period.
It finally appeared as though Khimik had settled into the game and thanks to tremendous play by Nerijus Varnelis the home team rolled on to a 74-62 victory and maintain their hopes of a playoff berth. Khimik was led by Varnelis with 20 points and Lischuk who finished with 15 points and 10 boards.