When is home-court advantage not home-court advantage?
Before Game 1 of 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals on Tuesday, ALBA Berlin guard Peyton Siva noted that his team was "hosting" the series opener against Unicaja Malaga at an arena in which it rarely plays – Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin – due to a long-scheduled event at their regular home court, Mercedes-Benz Arena.
"Unfortunately, we're playing this first game in a gym where we played before only once this season, so we are going to be just as familiar to the gym as they are." Siva said.
As it happened, ALBA lost a 21-point lead and the game, 90-91, in the closing seconds to Unicaja Malaga, a team that specializes in road wins in the EuroCup Playoffs.
But what's happening in the all-Russia series between UNICS Kazan and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar is truly rare.
Yes, both teams are playing on their regular home courts and changing cities between Game 1 and Game 2. But at the arena, both inside and out, everything will look almost exactly the same. That's because Basket-Hall Kazan and Basket-Hall Krasnodar are near-identical buildings.
The Basket-Hall in Kazan opened in August of 2003 as the first dedicated basketball venue in Russia. It features a main hall with a basketball court for about 7,500 spectators, plus a secondary court that seats about 1,500. It was designed by the local institute Tatinvestgrazhdanproject with the participation of foreign subcontractors and built by a Turkish company. Its purpose-built nature is evident by the giant basketballs dotted on top of columns around the arena's exterior.
The original Basket-Hall design proved to be so efficient and successful that it has become a prototype for other similar projects in the country. The building in Krasnodar opened in August of 2011, and it basically used the same plans, distribution and structure as its older brother in Kazan.
And since, as they say, all good things come in threes, there's even another sibling of the Basket-Halls in Kazan and Krasnodar. It is called Yantar Sports Palace and it is located in the city of Kaliningrad in western Russia. The Yantar Sports Palaca however, mainly hosts volleyball games, along with many other sports disciplines.
Of course, for players in Russia, the look-alike arenas are old news, although they could be inside one or the other and forget for a moment what city they are in.
"The court, the corridors, mostly everything is the same," Pavel Antipov, who played for UNICS Kazan for four seasons and one with Lokomotiv, said during last season's EuroCup Finals. "Basket-Hall Krasnodar has small differences because Loko personalized it, but it is more or less the same."
There is good reason why the original building in Kazan was copied in Krasnodar and beyond. It had received a prize as "The Best Sports Complex of Russia" in 2005.
On the official website for Lokomotiv Kuban you can even experience what it is like to be in the arena with their panoramic view function.