Former EuroCup champion and perennial contender Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar enters its seventh straight season in the competition and - like every season - has ambitions to go all the way. Originally known as Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody, the team from the North Caucasus region has produced several strong youth talents over the years since inception in 1946, but did not make its European debut until the 1998-99 Korac Cup.
Lokomotiv picked up its first major title, the Russian Cup, in 2000. After back-to-back third-place Russian League finishes, Lokomotiv shocked Europe in 2002 by reaching the Korac Cup finals, where it lost to SLUC Nancy. A year later, the club moved to the city of Rostov and reached the FIBA Europe Cup title game in 2005, but lost to CSU Asesoft Ploiesti. Lokomotiv continued to make the Russian League playoffs and advanced several stages in various European cups before moving again in 2009 when Krasnodar became its home and the club rebranded as Lokomotiv Kuban.
The team reached the Russian League semifinals for the first time in 2011 while plowing through to the FIBA EuroChallenge final, where it lost to Krka Novo Mesto. Its EuroCup debut followed and Lokomotiv made the quarterfinals and appeared at the VTB United League final four for the first time. Then came a historic 2012-13 campaign, in which EuroCup MVP Nick Calathes guided Lokomotiv to the EuroCup crown. Lokomotiv made its EuroLeague debut in the 2013-14 season and reached the Top 16, but missed out on the playoffs via point difference. The following season Lokomotiv had another strong campaign with a near-perfect EuroCup run as Derrick Brown, Anthony Randolph and Malcolm Delaney led the club to 20 consecutive wins in the competition. However, a quarterfinal loss against UNICS Kazan prevented the team from going further.
The 2015-16 season was one for the history books as Delaney and Randolph starred and took the team through FC Barcelona in the playoffs for the team's first appearance at the continent's signature club event, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. Loko tied its own EuroCup record with 20 straight wins to start the 2017-18 season, which put the team at the doorstep of the finals. However, in the decisive games, Darussafaka Istanbul took the upper hand and managed to sweep the series 2-0, thus depriving Loko of another EuroCup crown.
Lokomotiv has reached the quarterfinals in two of the past three seasons and both times lost to Russian rival UNICS Kazan in the maximum three games. With Coach Evgeny Pashutin, who manned the sidelines on Lokomotiv's 2013 EuroCup-championship squad, leading the way, this team enters the new season with its sights set high.
|Russian National Cup: 2000