Azovmash recovered from last week's losing start in Round II of the EuroCup by prevailing 64-53 over Russian high-fliers BC Khimki on Tuesday in Ukraine.
After being swept aside by DKV Joventut last week in Badalona, Spain, Azovmash returned home for a Group L battle they simply had to win to stand a strong chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.
The heavyweights played a very even game, especially for most of third quarter when they seemed to match each other blow for blow before Azovmash finally took control.
Home center Andriy Botichev's jump shot snapped a 45-45 tie, and after Melvin Booker failed to sink a jumper for Khimki, Arnas Kazlauslauskas nailed a three-ball for a 50-45 Azovmash lead.
|Khalid El-Amin |
Khimki never recovered from the 10-0 run.
Playing without their Italian national team point guard Gianmarco Pozzecco after he picked up a foot injury in their Superleague win over CSK VVS Samara at the weekend, Khimki got a three-pointer from Oscar Torres to pull to within seven.
But after Torres missed a lay-up which would have cut the deficit to five, Khalid El-Amin pulled up from behind the arc and buried a shot to restore the 10-point advantage.
El-Amin would go on to score a game-high 25 points.
Free throws from Boris Gorenc (one), Torres (two) and Vitaly Fridzon (one) closed the gap to 58-52 with five minutes remaining, but Azovmash's defence stiffened.
Fridzon missed a jumper, and Serhiy Lishchuk made one of two from the line with 4:04 to play.
Gorenc was off target from long range with 3:29 to play, followed by a failed three-point attempt from El-Amin.
Khimki shot themselves in the foot when they failed to get a shot off before the expiration of the 24-second shot clock, turning the ball back over to Azovmash with 2:15 remaining.
After the hosts failed to add to their lead, Alexey Savkov missed a three-pointer for Khimki. The shots simply were not falling for either side but that suited the hosts just fine as the seconds continued to tick off the clock.
Serguei Elevich's men would eventually run out of time.
El-Amin underlined his reputation as one of the best players in Europe with the points explosion on 10 of 19 (52.6%) shooting from the floor including two of four from the arc.
No Khimki player put up big numbers. Torres top-scored with 13 points on three of 11 (27%) shooting. He was a perfect six of six from the free throw line.
Khimki's free throw shooting helped keep them in the game as they were 15 of 20 (75%) for the game.
Azovmash grabbed 38 rebounds to just 34 for Khimki.
The EuroCup will have a break over the holiday period but resume on January 10. Azovmash will be at home to Privatbank EKA AEL, while Khimki will host DKV Joventut.