Lokomotiv runs away from Skyliners, 84-58
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar readied for the 7DAYS EuroCup Playoffs by closing the Top 16 with an 84-58 over visiting Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt on Wednesday. Lokomotiv finished 4-2 in second place in Group G, while Skyliners finished the group winless. Lokomotiv spread around the minutes and the scoring. Dragan Apic, in just his third game with the team, scored 18 points to go with 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Vladimir Ivlev followed with 12 points and 7 rebounds, while Mateusz Ponitka scored 11 and had 5 steals for the winners. Jason Clark was the only double-digit scorer for the visitors with 13 points, while Jonas Wohlfarth-Botterman had 4 blocks. Skyliners battled until leading 38-39 shortly after halftime, but Lokomotiv moved into high gear and finished the game from there with a a 46-19 difference.
Clark and Garai Zeeb shared 3 triples as Skyliners shot ahead 6-9. Ponitka's 7 quick points and assist to Moustapha Fall soon put Lokomotiv up on its way to a narrow 19-18 first-quarter finish. Trey Bell-Haynes and Elijah Clarance downed spin moves and Marco Voeller a put-back as Skyliners retook a 19-25 lead to start the second quarter. Sasha Shcherbenev, Dmitry Kulagin and Vitaly Fridzon drilled triples for Lokomotiv, but the hosts finally needed 6 late points from Ivlev to stay ahead 36-32 at halftime. Richard Freudenberg's three-point play got the lead back for Skyliners at 38-39 but Lokomotiv followed Dmitry Khvostov back in front and Apic's three-point play and 2 more free throws opened the first double-digit lead, 55-44. Trevor Lacy's triple pushed Lokomotiv advantage to 59-44 after 30 minutes. Ivlev extended Lokomotiv's run to 23-5 with the fourth quarter's first basket before Tyler Larson's triple stopped the bleeding for the visitors. It was 66-48, but Lokomotiv did not take its foot off the gas until the job was done and it could start thinking ahead to the playoffs.
Triples tell a story
Skyliners led on and off throughout the first half after making 4 of their first 6 three-point attempts. However, the visitors made just 1 of their next 16 from downtown until Tyler Larson buried one early in the fourth quarter. By that time, the score was 61-47 and Lokomotiv was well on its way to victory, having improved its own 0-for-5 start from long range to hit 7 of 11 the rest of the way.
Lokomotiv found out during the game that another Russian team, UNICS Kazan, will be its opponent in the quarterfinals. Game 1 and, if necessary, Game 3, will be in Kazan. The playoffs tip off on March 5 and 6.
Outcome could help
By winning and taking its Top 16 record to 4-2, Lokomotiv earned a potential advantage should it survive the quarterfinals and the second-seeded team in another series, Valencia Basket vs. Rytas Vilnius, do the same. If that happens, Lokomotiv would have home-court advantage in a hypothetical semifinal against Rytas, which finished 3-3 in Group E.
Climbing the charts
Former EuroCup champion Dmitry Khvostov made his 130th EuroCup appearance, tying Vladimir Veremeenko for second place on the all-time list. He moved up to third place, as well, in career starts with 83.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019