Created on 24-01-2019 at 10:20 AM by Matt Hardy
For the second time within a week, the Bayern basketball players will travel to the Russian capital. On the 20th gameday of the EuroLeague, Khimki Moscow will be the opponent for the German champions. A few days ago, the hosts dismissed their former coach Georgios Bartzokas, with whom they had reached the playoffs of the premier league for the first time last season. Currently, the EuroCup winner of 2015 is still fighting for the play-offs despite the absence of superstar Alexej Shved (Hand) for weeks. The Bundesliga leader (9-10 in the EuroLeague) is the eighth-placed team and are aiming for their third straight road win.
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After their return at noon on Saturday, the Bavarians will travel directly to Bayreuth, for a difficult BBL matchup just 40 hours after tip-off in Moscow (Sunday, 15:00 CET / MagentaSport, FC Bayern.tv live, Sport1).
"Khimki has also achieved great victories without Shved, for example at home against the current standings leader Fenerbahce and also on the road in Gran Canaria," said Bayern coach Dejan Radonjic. "In addition, they now have a new coach, which always releases new energy and changes things. But we'll try to put our strengths to the test in order to have the chance to win again. Maodo Lo will travel with us and I hope that he can play again, but it will be a short-term decision on game day."
Coach change to Kurtinaitis at the beginning of the week
Bartzokas' dismissal is already the seventh in the EuroLeague with its 16 clubs. The new coach at Khimki is an old acquaintance: Rimas Kurtinaitis, who already coached the club from 2011 to 2016 and led it to two EuroCup titles (2012, 2015). The 1988 Olympic champion (as a player of the former Soviet Union) had his last engagement in his hometown Vilnius near Rytas. The Bavarians have one possible source of information about Kurtinaitis' tactical tricks in their ranks: Guard Petteri Koponen played under the Lithuanian during his time with Khimki (2012 to 2016).
Khimki's demands are always high. In addition to the playoffs, the club, which was only founded in 1997, always has at least the goal of participating in the final of the Eastern European VTB League, which entitles it to participate in the EuroLeague (behind A-license holder ZSKA). Behind the big city rival, still undefeated in the VTB, where the Bavarians lost last week (77-70), Khimki currently occupies second place, and on the weekend they won 70-50 against Minsk (Belarus), Bartzokas' last game as coach. Top scorer was Jordan Mickey (16).
Besides topscorer Shved (25.3 ppg), who has only played eight games, the American forward Anthony Gill (11.5 ppg) seems to be injured as well. In Bavaria, Milan Macvan (cruciate ligament) - since the first game against Khimki (72.65) - and Devin Booker, who had an unfortunate twist of the ankle and has missed several weeks of action. Maodo Lo (knee) has been back at practice since Wednesday and is working for his return. The statistics should also encourage the Bavarians: They've won all five duels with Khimki in EuroLeague and EuroCup so far.
"Like every game now, this one is very important if you want to fight for the playoffs - and that's what we do," says Bayern-Guard Nihad Djedovic. "We won the first matchup, but it's going to be a completely different game now that they have a new coach and are playing at home. They are a strong team and we have a lot of respect for them. But we've prepared well and want to do everything we can to get a positive result."
New BBL home games scheduled: Sundays, 15:00, Audi Dome
Further game days have been scheduled in the BBL. In March, the Bavarians will have the following home games, each on a family-friendly Sunday at 15:00: on March 3rd against Bremerhaven, March 17th against the Central German BC and on March 31st against Ludwigsburg. Also a home game against Braunschweig takes place on Sunday at 15:00 on April 14th.
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