In Round 18 of Turkish Airlines Euroleague, Khimki Moscow will host Zenit St. Petersburg in an interesting match. Since now, they meet twice this season, once in Euroleague and once in VTB, but both games were won by Khimki, despite playing away. Is there any chance for Zenit to make a surprise here?
Khimki ended 3 games losing streak on Monday when they met in VTB another Russian powerhouse, CSKA Moscow. Alexey Shved was back in the starting line-up and he made a good impact, helping his team to win the game 96-80. They played very good on both sides of the floor and registered 23 assists and 34 rebounds. The top performers for Khimki were: Janis Timma (26 points and 4 rebounds), Alexey Shved (18 points and 9 assists) and Jeremy Evans (17 points and 8 rebounds). Shved’s return will be huge for them, but Anthony Gill, Petr Gubanov and Timo Mozgov will be out.
In their last Euroleague match, Zenit fought until the last seconds in Italy against Armani Milano, but in the end, they lost the game by 1 point, 74-73. Then, they came back in VTB, where they smashed Tsmoki Minsk away 80-60. They took control of the game in the early minutes and added points to their lead after every quarter. 12 players were used in this game and everybody got involved at least 4 minutes. That will help the starting players to be fresher for this Russian clash. The main contributors were: Alex Renfroe (15 points, 7 assists and 7 steals), Will Thomas (13 points and 3 rebounds) and Austin Hollins (16 points in 16 minutes). What’s the worst news for them is the injury of Gustavo Ayon, their scoring and rebounding leader in Euroleague.
This should be a one-sided game, with Ayon’s injury and Shved’s return. Khimki will try to play very efficiently and also defend Zenit’s long-range shots because the paint won’t be their preferred destination where to get points. In their last meeting, in VTB, Khimki won 108-101 after a huge display from Shved, who ended that game with 30 points, 5 rebounds and 13 assists. I expect another huge game for him and another easy victory for Khimki.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc