| Lokomotiv Kuban took the all-Russian duel in the Last 16 opening week at Spartak St. Petersburg by 70-84 on Wednesday night. The win allows Loko to start with a 1-0 record in Group K, while Spartak is 0-1. Despite a strong Kuban start, Spartak reacted and even jumped ahead at 27-26, but Kuban was back in business soon and a timely 0-9 burst allowed them to jump ahead again and manage the lead from there. Derrick Brown led the winners with 21 points, Simas Jasaitis added 15, Aleks Maric 14, Jimmy Baron 13 and Nick Calathes 12. For Spartak, Loukas Mavrokefalides led the way with 20 points and 9 boards, Zach Wright added 16 and Janis Strelnieks contributed 11. Spartak's 1 of 17 was a heavy burden to bear throughout the game while Loko's 23 assists made the difference in the difficult moments.
Fedor Dmitriev was the first man to appear in the game with four straight points that put Spartak SPB with a 6-3 edge.
However, Lokomotiv Kuban reacted fast and Simas Jasaitis put the first lead change in the score with his bucket for 6-7 after
his own offensive rebound. Kuban's scoring run escalated to 2-12 as Aleks Marc slammed and accompanied it with a
complimentary free throw for 8-16 in minute 5. The guests were already up to 5 assists against just 1 by the hosts. Spartak
was trying to hold on, but Nick Calathes rised for two straight threes that increased Kuban's lead to a 10-24 that was more
than a serious warning for the hosts. Derrick Brown put an end to the first quarter with two free throws for the guests
making it a 10-26 Kuban deal. Things could not be more different at the start of the second period. With a 15-0 run mainly by
Loukas Mavrokefalides, Spartak was suddenly back in business with a 25-26 in less then 5 minutes and later 27-26 with Joshua
Carter's bucket closing the scoring run at 17-0. Loko regrouped just in time with Jimmy Baron's three, and in the last
minutes of the second period, the guests managed to amass a 0-9 scoring run that allowed them to hit the halftime break with
a 33-44 edge. A 0 of 7 from the arc was seriously burdening Spartak while Kuban's 11 of 15 from the line was a great asset at that point.
Defenses started strong in the second half, but Lokomotiv was still increasing the gap little by little. Between Jasaitis and Maric the lead of the guests increased to 37-53 after the former's three. A late pull by Spartak in the tthird quarter allowed the hosts to trim the deficit back to 10 points, 52-62, after 30 minutes thanks to Mavrokefalides' antics again. The first steps of the last quarter saw both teams as balanced as ever in the game. With a 8-8 starting partial, the gap was staying at 10 points, 60-70. Despite suffering a bit from turnovers, Lokomotiv Kuban was lucky that Spartak was still stuck at 1 of 14 from three-point land and also had a worse percentage in two-pointers. The game entered the last minutes with the same situation as with 150 second to go, the gap was still 10 points, 66-76 after Vladimir Dragicevic's layup. However, a 2-6 late burst including four points by Brown made it 68-82 as it was clear that there was no stopping Lokomotiv in this game.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013