Two former 7DAYS EuroCup champions from the same country, with nearly identical home courts, meet for the third time in the quarterfinals when UNICS Kazan takes on Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. UNICS owns the home-court advantage owing to its 5-1 record to finish atop Top 16 Group H. Lokomotiv was the Group F runner-up with a 3-3 record.
By the numbers
There are some remarkable similarities between these teams. Both have 11-5 records in the EuroCup this season. UNICS has outscored its opponents by 6.5 points per game. Lokomotiv has by 7.7. UNICS Has outrebounded opponents by 4.6 rebounds per game. Lokomotiv by 4.0. UNICS has made 53.3% of its two-pointers, while Lokomotiv has converted 53.7%. The vast majority of counting stats have Lokomotiv a little bit higher than UNICS, though UNICS's defensive numbers a little lower with the differences mostly owing to pace of game. Two numbers where Lokomotiv has a significant advantage is its 3.1 blocks per game, which are more than double UNICS (1.5 bpg.), and its defensive two-point shooting allowed (48.7%), which is third-best in the EuroCup this season.
The rich history
This will mark the third time that these teams meet in the EuroCup Quarterfinals. UNICS triumphed in each of the previous two series. They first met in 2015 in a two-game, total-point series. Lokomotiv took charge in Game 1 with a 78-87 road victory led by Malcolm Delaney (23 points) and Krunoslav Simon (18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists). It was Lokomotiv's 19th consecutive win to start the season. However, UNICS dominated the second game 58-79, pulling away in the second half in which it outscored Lokomotiv 25-45. James White was UNICS's hero with 29 points and 8 rebounds and D’or Fischer added 17 points and 8 rebounds.
They met again in 2019 in a best-of-three series. UNICS took charge by winning the opener 86-66 as Errick McCollum exploded for 32 points and Pierria Henry added 18 points and 9 assists. Lokomotiv evened the series with a 68-59 victory in Game 2; Dmitry Kulagin starred with 26 points for the winners. In the deciding game, it was tied 62-62 in the final minute. After Kostas Kaimakoglou buried a go-ahead three-pointer for UNICS, Dmitry Khvostov committed a critical turnover that allowed McCollum to make it a two-possession game from the line and UNICS held on 69-65. After both triumphs, UNICS was eliminated in the semifinals. Those series are the only games these teams have played against each other in the EuroLeague.
Their last meeting
Lokomotiv came from behind to defeat UNICS 93-81 in the VTB United League in November. After falling behind early, Lokomotiv dominated the second quarter 26-11 to get back in the game and 3 three-pointers by Kevin Hervey early in the fourth quarter helped the hosts build a double-digit difference that they held on to the rest of the way. Hervey and Jordan Crawford scored 22 points apiece to lead Lokomotiv, Alan Williams tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds and Mantas Kalnietis added 10 points and 14 assists. John Brown and Jordan Morgan led UNICS with 18 points each.
Both teams, however, have undergone some roster changes since then. UNICS added point guard Jordan Theodore in November to pair with Nate Wolters. Theodore moved into the starting lineup in the Top 16 and averaged 5.2 assists per game in that stage. Lokomotiv has signed Nigel Williams-Goss and Drew Gordon, which have taken on major roles. Gordon has helped replace Williams, who is out long-term with an injury. Williams-Goss has become a key figure in the backcourt with the release of Jordan Crawford.
UNICS has the home-court advantage, however, there is no place on the road quite like Kazan for Lokomotiv. That's because the two teams' arenas are almost exactly the same, both inside and out. Basket-Hall Kazan and Basket-Hall Krasnodar are nearly identical buildings. The building in Krasnodar opened in August of 201, and it was built with the same plans, distribution and structure as its older brother in Kazan, which opened in August 2003.