Thanks to the NBA lockout, the Russian basketball fans get the benefit of seeing some top American stars in action. And two players from the San Antonio Spurs surprisingly met on court in the Moscow region, where Khimki faced Krasnye Krylya.
Many NBA players have been flocking to Europe to play and keep in tip-top shape in case the season stateside ends its lockout, which has brought the sport there to a halt.
This ill wind has blown some good, however, the turmoil across the Atlantic offering basketball fans the unprecedented chance to witness current big-name US players in action on Russian hardcourts.
That was the case in Khimki’s opener against Krasnye Krylya, with former San Antonio teammates doing battle on opposing sides.
De Juan Blair now wears the shirt of the team from Samara, while Chris Quinn has decided to spend the next 12 months in the Moscow Region.
“Maybe last year – at this time – we wouldn’t have thought have thought that, but that’s the way it is,” Quinn told RT. “He’s a great player, a great competitor. It’s fun to play against someone like that.”
The first match for Khimki’s new-look and renewed squad turned out to be a real challenge.
Boasting the likes of Austin Daye from Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets’ Timofey Mozgov, it was expected the Yellow-and-Blues would easily beat the visitors.
However, the game was a surprisingly tight affair, and a narrow two-point lead ahead of the big intermission was all that the hosts could manage.
In the third quarter, Khimki increased their lead to six points, 60-54. But in the final quarter, the guests put the Moscow region team under intense pressure, getting within just two points, only a minute-and-a-half before the final buzzer.
In a nerve-wracking finish, the more experienced home side dug deep and found enough in reserve to hold their ground and edge ahead to an 85-79 victory.
Quinn was the key to Khimki’s success with an impressive 21-point tally.
“We’re just happy to get a win,” Quinn said. “We hand a great fan support for our first home game. And we’re just very excited to get a win. Hopefully, there’s many more this season.”
The match turned out to be a real cracker, proving that one of the most interesting seasons in Russian basketball – with new blood from across the Atlantic – has just started.