|18 December 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Aaron Miles is leading the VTB league in assists, averaging 6.1 assists per game|
Krasnye Krylia registered a big win in two competitions with one stroke on Monday night.
The EuroChallenge Regular Season Group B winners were playing host to Khimki, a side that qualified to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16, and emerged victorious, 76-67.
The encounter between the two Russian sides counts towards both the VTB League and Russian PBL Regular Season standings.
The hosts were off to a better start and led 17-13 at the first buzzer, but excellent perimeter shooting by Croatian international Zoran Planinic and Finnish international Petteri Koponen brought the visitors up front, 32-26, at half-time.
Immediately after the interval, the Samara outfit used an 8-0 run to level proceedings and, most importantly, change the pace of the game, turning it into a high-scoring affair from then onwards.
The highly experienced Khimki bounced back with a 9-4 run of their own, spanning the third and fourth quarters, to regain the lead, 53-47.
Krasnye Krylia though stepped it up in the clutch, hitting two three-pointers in quick succession after 17 missed attempts and once they assumed control again, 59-57, they managed to hold on to the lead until the end.
"It's nice to beat a Euroleague Top 16 participant and (VTB league) group leader," Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich told the league's official website.
"We learned some lessons from our game against UNICS Kazan (a 69-56 home loss on 2 December) in which the team collapsed after a certain point.
"We've written in our locker room that the team must be one cohesive unit and that's how it was today.
"This is a very important win for Krasnye Krylia."
The Samara team shot only 32 percent from the field and perhaps the biggest culprit was Chester Simmons, who went 3-for-14 from the floor.
The American guard hit two key threes in the clutch though and was an almost perfect 11-for-12 from the free throw line, to lead all scorers with 19 points.
Aaron Miles finished with 15 points and added eight assists, to remain at the top of the VTB league table in this category, with 6.1 assists per game.
Krasnye Krylia have now improved to 6-3 in the VTB League and are in fourth place in the Group A standings, while they are tied with Khimki at 4-2 in the PBL.
Tsmoki Minsk, who have also qualified to the EuroChallenge Last 16, are yet to get off the mark in the VTB and are bottom of the table in Group B with a 0-9 record.
The Belarusians were last in action on Saturday and fell 65-56 at Czech champions Nymburk.
Jajuan Smith had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in defeat.
|Sergey Karasev is Triumph Lyubertsy's top scorer in the VTB League|
A player who continues to impress in both competitions is young Russian international Sergey Karasev.
The 19-year-old averages 14.6 points in the VTB League and is the eighth-leading scorer in the competition and the first among all Russian players.
Karasev had 19 points and seven rebounds for Triumph Lyubertsy at CSKA Moscow on Sunday night but ultimately his team succumbed to the Russian and European powerhouse, 80-71.
This season is the first in the VTB League for both Karasev and his club, who made it to the EuroChallenge Final Four in 2012.
Having averaged 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds for Triumph in the EuroChallenge, he was selected by then Russia coach David Blatt and joined the senior national team in the London Olympics.
The youngster returned to his club as the undisputed leader of the team and he is now in the run for the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year award, to cap off a fantastic 2012.
Triumph head coach Vasily Karasev, who happens to be Sergey's father, must be double delighted with his son's progress but could see him leaving for pastures new soon.
The young swing player recently revealed that he will travel to the USA after the end of the season and take part in training camps in order to decide whether the will enter the NBA draft already this year.