Basketball is funny sometimes. Even when the cards looked like they are stacked against you, you end up winning. Tofas Bursa comes out of its road victory over Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar feeling like that.
Tofas got a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer by Tarik Phillip to pull out a 69-72 victory and improve to 3-2 in Group B, while Lokomotiv fell to 2-3. The Turkish side had never beaten the Russian club, losing both of their previous matchups last season. In addition, Tofas had lost both of its previous road games this season – by 13 and 11 points – while Lokomotiv was 2-0 at home with wins by 14 and 11 points. In fact, Lokomotiv had won 19 of its 22 last EuroCup home games dating back to the 2017-18 season.
And on Wednesday, it certainly looked like everything was going wrong for Tofas. Lokomotiv opened a 14-point lead near the end of the third quarter and all of the hosts' main weapons were producing. But veteran Sammy Mejia managed to drain a three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer for the guests. And it was "game on" after that.
Phillip, Mejia and Matt Lojeski sparked a 2-15 start to the fourth quarter and Tofas pulled ahead. And then it was just a matter of staying in the fight and hoping for a chance to win in the end.
Things once again looked like they were lined up against Tofas as Lokomotiv's Dmitry Kulagin was fouled with 11 seconds left and the game even at 69-69. Kulagin had only missed one free throw all season, going 10-of-11 until then, and he is an 81 percent free throw shooter for his EuroCup career. Nonetheless, he ended up missing both foul shots, which meant that Phillip had no pressure of having to score at the end as the game would have gone to overtime if he didn't. But Phillip did his thing and drained the long three-pointer at the buzzer – and basketball showed once again why it can be very funny sometimes.