By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
All eyes were on the main stars in Alexey Shved and Jordan Loyd with the expectation of a high-volume shootout, however, while they were still very much the core of each team’s game, they didn’t rise up to their highest level and it was the role players that tipped the scales in this one.
And two debutants at that in Errick McCollum and Johnny O’Bryant who, although both have EuroLeague experience, played their first games this season in the competition.
McCollum was on for a slow start, scoring just one point in the first half but that changed after the break, and it changed big. He finished the match with 23 points on 4-5 from deep including two dagger threes during Khimki’s 20-6 run in the final period that put them up in double-digits (78-66) which was enough to secure the win.
“The coaches did a great job pushing me every day and getting me into shape for a EuroLeague game, and my teammates continued to believe in me and encourage me. I’m glad the team gave me the minutes and the confidence to make some shots,” McCollum noted after the match.
Although Shved couldn’t find his rhythm from the three-point territory, hitting only one out of seven, he found ways to impact the play with 12 assists (one shy of career-high) and still put on 15 points. Jordan Mickey also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards alongside a bonus of five blocks.
For Zvezda, O’Bryant logged 14 points on 3-4 from deep while Loyd, despite being 1-6 from three, put on 18 points. Corey Walden helped with 11 points.
This was Khimki’s first win this season after struggling early with the roster due to injuries and coronavirus, and are now holding a 1-5 record while Crvena Zvezda stands at 2-3.
“We are happy because we had a long time with a lot of problems. Now we have most of our guys on the court so it was easier to play good defense and smart offense. Errick [McCollum] is great, that’s why we signed him. We always needed help from the bench and he did a great job today,” coach Rimas Kurtinaitis said.