Lokomotiv too strong for Tofas at home
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar remained undefeated in Group B after overpowering Tofas Bursa 95-72 on Wednesday. The game was close until midway through the third quarter when the hosts went on a
26-4 barrage that decided the game. Lokomotiv improved to 3-0, while Tofas fell to 1-2. Dmitry Kulagin led the winners with 16 points, Vitaly Fridzon scored 15 on 3-for-3 three-point shooting and Mateusz Ponitka added 10 points as all 12 Lokomotiv players scored. Baris Ermis paced the Tofas attack with 13 points and Jeff Withey had 10.
The game was close early with neither team leading by more than a basket in the first nine minutes. JaJuan Johnson and Fridzon came off the bench to give Lokomotiv a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes. Sammy Mejia scored the first 5 points of the second quarter to put Tofas ahead and the teams were then virtually inseparable until Isaiah Whitehead nailed a three in the final minute of the first half that gave the hosts a 42-38 lead at the break. Kulagin stepped up in the third quarter and his four-point play was among the highlights of a 13-2 charge that gave Lokomotiv its first double-digit lead, 64-50, and the scoreboard showed 68-52 through three quarters. Lokomotiv did not let up as it scored the first 9 points of the fourth quarter to put the game on ice.
Not much separated the sides in the first two and a half quarters, but with the scoreboard showing 51-48, Lokomotiv made its move. Five different players scored in a 13-2 run that gave the hosts their first double-digit lead. Dmitry Kulagon had a four-point play and Vitaly Fridzon a triple in that period. Then, after the visitors showed signs of life with a free throw each from Jeff Withey and Berkan Durmaz, four different players scored in a 9-0 blitz to open the fourth that made it 77-52 and all but sealed the outcome.
Shooting is the name of the game
Little else matters if you can shoot much better than your opponent and that is what Lokomotiv did on this night. The home team was 8 for 10 on three-point shots (80%) and did not miss on 9 free throw attempts. Vitaly Fridzon was 3 for 3 from downtown and Jamel McLean knocked down all 4 of his foul shots. Tofas, in contrast, was 5 for 22 from downtown (22.7%) and an abysmal 9 for 16 from the line (56.3%). Lokomotiv also outshot Tofas on twos (63.3% to 53.3%).
Second unit power
To look at the Lokomotiv bench at the start of the game is to see All-EuroCup forward JuJuan Johnson, former EuroLeague champ Vitaly Fridzon, two-time EuroLeague MVP of the round Jamel McLean, a starter on last season's EuroCup runner-up squad Trevor Lacey and one of the team's biggest summer signings, Isaiah Whitehead. That fivesome could win a lot of games in the EuroCup by itself! In the end, the reserves amassed 47 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists. The starters had 48, 17 and 11. When there is no drop-off from the starters to the bench, you know you have a strong team.
The next challenge for Lokomotiv is a trip to the Croatian capital to take on Cedevita Zagreb on Wednesday. Tofas will try to regroup in France, where it faces Limoges CSP on Tuesday.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018