Russia has contributed 3 of the 4 top teams in the Qualifying Round of the FIBA Europe League this season. The 4th is BC Khimki and unlike their compatriots, they were not able to win their group. Instead they finished 4th in Group B at 6:6 and their reward is a match-up with Group C winners Ural Great.
Both sides know each other well and have already played twice this season in the Russian Superleague. Ural Great was the winner in the 2 encounters, 105:71 and 98:92 installing them as firm favourites to win the series and advance to the next round.
Ural Great and BC Khimiki are relatively experienced when it comes to European club competiton. Ural played in the first round of the 2000 Korac Cup. Khimki have twice played in the Korac Cup and last year took part in the Champions Cup, where they made it to the Pan European phase before bowing out.
Khimki’s Vassili Karassev is one of the FEL’s most experience players and has 6 European Championships to his name, as well as numerous EuroLeague apperances with former club CSKA Moscow. He will nee to be at his best against the Ural Great backcourt tandem of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Sergey Chikalkin if his side are to have any hope of victory.
If Khimki are to have any chance against Ural Great, they must somehow neutralise their offensive threat. Ural Great have proved to me one of the most prolific clubs in the FEL and have scored 89.5 points per contest. They are particulary lethal from long range where they have hit an astounding 47.3% of their three-pointers, easily the best among all teams.