MOSCOW, January 4 (R-Sport) - BC Khimki grabbed a confident 78-65 win at home to Spanish champion Barcelona to lead its Euroleague Top 16 group.
After two wins in two games, the Russians share the top spot in Group F with Spanish team Caja Laboral, which beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 71-70, while Barcelona is fourth on a 1-1 record.
Croatian players top-scored for Khimki and Barcelona, with Khimki guard Zoran Planinic and Barcelona center Ante Tomic notching up 16 points apiece.
“It was a great game for us,” Finnish guard Petteri Koponen said on the Khimki website.
“We knew that at home we could beat any team of Europe. Today we played very good defense and I think it was the crucial factor of our success.”
Barcelona were weakened by the absence of their injured captain Juan Carlos Navarro and faded badly in the second half of the game.
“We lost our rhythm in the third quarter and didn't control the game. I think it was the key to our loss,” Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual said. “Khimki played its own game, always organized. Not having Navarro affected us. He is a special player and very, very important to build our own game.”
The teams ran neck-and-neck in the first quarter, but it ended with a three-point advantage to the Russians thanks to a late three-pointer by Alexei Zhukanenko.
This proved the basis for a solid victory as Khimki won all four quarters by small margins, sealing the win with strong defense in a 16-10 fourth quarter.
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News that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would resign in order to run for the mayoral election in September came as quite a shock. Sobyanin’s political potential is fairly dubious, not to mention his approval ratings. He has not finished many of the projects he initiated and the electoral effect from these projects is expected to come a bit later than September 2013. Sobyanin’s opponents were not entirely unprepared for this blitzkrieg.