The 2012-13 7DAYS EuroCup champions are back with a vengeance after they were eliminated in the regular season for the first time ever last season. Aside from that one slip-up, Loko has always moved past the second phase as well as it intends to do this season.
Lokomotiv has suffered just two losses in Group C and those were, of course, against Virtus Segafredo Bologna, the only undefeated team left in the competition. Loko won seven of its last eight games to finish second with an 8-2 record. Its biggest win was on the road at Lietkabelis Panevezys, 76-105, matching -at the time - its highest PIR in a single game with 133. That mark was subsequently raised to 140 a couple of weeks later with a 94-114 road win at Telenet Giants Antwerp.
In his maiden season in the EuroCup, Jordan Crawford has taken the competition by storm and merged as Lokomotiv's leader on the court. Thanks to his experience, Crawford averages 16.9 points. He suffered a small hiccup in Round 4 against MoraBanc Andorra. It was the only game in which he stopped at single digits both in scoring and PIR. He made up for that in Round 9 against the same team on the road with season-highs in scoring (23) and PIR (22). Crawford has delivered from the very beginning in helping Loko step up its game from last season.
Stanislav Ilnitskiy is a EuroCup veteran of seven seasons, his last four with Loko. He even won the 2015 trophy with Khimki. He has always stayed in the shadows and started this season by coming off the bench. However, he has started in his last five games and is averaging almost 20 minutes per game. If Coach Pashutin keeps trusting him, Ilnitskiy could step up and increase his 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. In the Top 16, Loko will need all the firepower it can get and this local talent is always ready to be up to the task.
Did you know?
Lokomotiv Kuban leads the league in both accumulated and average PIR? The team has been working like a well-oiled machine in which all the parts fit together. After 10 games, Loko is one of the only two teams - the other being Virtus, also in Group C - to have accumulated more than 1000 PIR per game. In fact, it led the league in average PIR (106.1). Curiously enough, that number increases to 117.8 in road games, also a league-best. Loko also allows opponents just a 78.5 PIR average, netting a 28 surplus that is decisive for wins most of the time.
Lokomotiv is looking pretty strong. The loss of the league's best rebounder, Alan Williams, to a season-ending injury would have been a fatal blow for many teams, but Loko endured. Without Williams, the team will have to approach the rest of the season with another plan, but the roster seems more than capable of tackling that. Group F features some long trips for Loko and teams that have shown they can beat anybody in the regular season, but if Coach Pashutin gets the machine running, the early elimination from 2019-20 will soon be forgotten.