Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar came into this season as one of the 7DAYS EuroCup title contenders. Although the 2013 champion struggled out of the gates in the Top 16, the team really came together as a unit in Round 3 to get its first win – thanks also to the big-shot making of Will Cummings.
Lokomotiv squandered an 11-point lead but managed to fend off Partizan NIS Belgrade and pick up a 74-67 victory to create a three-way tie in Group F at 1-2 alongside Partizan and Dolomiti Energia Trento, all three of them behind 3-0 leader Boulogne Metropolitans 92.
Cummings led Lokomotiv with 15 points to go with 4 assists. Jordan Crawford (14 points), Mindaugas Kuzminskas (12) and Mantas Kalnietis (10) all scored in double figures as well for the Russian side, which only lost two games to Virtus Segafredo Bologna in the regular season.
"We found a good balance between individual game and team game," Lokomotiv coach Evgeny Pashutin said after the game. "What was important today was guys making decisions together and we looked like a team. Everybody who came on the court gave heart and their maximum."
Cummings knew just how important the game was to a team that could not really afford to fall to 0-3 in the group, especially if two of the games were at home.
"It was an important game for us. It was a game that we were supposed to win to keep our goals alive," he said. "We just had to come into the game extra-focused on the defensive end, and we did a good job today."
Cummings showed some of the experience he brings to the team from having won the EuroCup crown with Darussafaka Istanbul in 2018. The 28-year-old hit a big shot in the first quarter after a Partizan run. Crawford and Reggie Lynch carried Lokomotiv in the second quarter and helped build an 11-point advantage. But Partizan raced back in the third quarter and evened the game at 40-40. Cummings punched back with a three-pointer and then added another score after Partizan had taken the lead. The guard also drained a big three-pointer at the end of the third quarter following an unsportsmanlike foul. Cummings then opened the fourth quarter with a score and assisted on Valerii Kalinov's basket to make it 60-49. Finally, after Rade Zagorac had hit a three-pointer to pull Partican within 7 points in the final 90 seconds, Cummings made sure of the victory as he drained a jumper to end any doubts.
The win may yet prove pivotal in Lokomotiv's ability to continue fighting for the title.
"This win helps us mentally to get back to our winning ways," Pashutin said.