|26 March 2013|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Chester Simmons led the way for Krasnye Krylia with 17 points|
Khimki edged out Krasnye Krylia 82-81 in the big game on the final day of the VTB League Regular Season on Monday and prevented the Samara outfit from clinching a direct berth in the competition's quarter-finals.
Krasnye Krylia were leading 81-79 when Finnish international Petteri Koponen, with ice running through his veins, hit a big three from the top of the key with 2.5 seconds left on the clock, to give hosts Khimki the lead.
Sergey Bazarevich, the visitors' head coach, called a time out to set up his team's last play; they needed to score on the last possession to win the game and clinch a top-two finish in Group A of the Regular Season, at the expense of Khimki.
Krasnye Krylia chose to pass the ball inside to power forward Andre Smith, who drove to the basket but his shot was blocked by James Augustine.
The ball rolled out of bounds as there was 0.4 seconds left in the game and Bazarevich called a second time-out.
The team's top scorer, Chester Simmons, managed to attempt a tip-in from three meters out straight from the inbound pass, but that was always going to be a nearly impossible shot to make and the ball didn't drop in.
Koponen and former Croatian international Kresimir Loncar led the way for the winners, with 16 points each, while Russian international Sergey Monya finished with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting from three-point range and also dished out five assists.
Simmons finished with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists for the guests while Smith collected a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
Krasnye Krylia will now have to try and reach the quarter-final stage of the VTB League by defeating another Russian side, Triumph Lyubertsy, in a best-of-three play-off series that is scheduled to start in May.
The EuroChallenge semi-finalists have the home-court advantage in the series, with the first game taking place in Lyubertsy and the second and third, if required, in Samara.
In the rest of the play-off pairings, Nizhny Novgorod will lock horns with Spartak St. Petersburg, Donetsk will face off with Lokomotiv Kuban and Astana will take on VEF Riga in the only series that does not involve any Russian team.
Khimki and UNICS Kazan clinched the top two spots in Group A and along with Zalgiris Kaunas and CSKA Moscow, who did the same in Group B, have qualified straight to the quarter-finals.
If Krasnye Krylia get past Triumph, they will face the mighty CSKA in a best-of-five series in the quarter-finals.