Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar grabbed a character win against ratiopharm Ulm, climbing to second place in the standings with a 2-1 record and getting the opportunity to qualify as soon as next week if it wins and LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne beats Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt. It was not easy; Lokomotiv was without the injured Dmitry Kulagin and Moustapha Fall and lost star big man Jamel McLean early in the game due to a leg problem. Other players had to step up and one did it right away, veteran bomber Vitaly Fridzon.
A EuroCup champion with Khimki Moscow Region in 2012, Fridzon opened the game with a three-pointer on his team's opening offense. He added another basket, a three-point play and another bomb from downtown to reach 11 points in less than 6 minutes. Fridzon would strike again from beyond the arc to finish the first quarter with 14 points – 1 shy of his previous season high (15 points against Tofas Bursa). Trevor Lacey picked it up where Fridzon left off, hitting three shots from downtown in a 1-11 run that allowed Lokomotiv to get the lead for good.
Even when other players - especially Dorell Wright – made the difference down the stretch, Lacey and Fridzon kept Lokomotiv ahead all game long. Lacey finished the game with 14 points, a new season high. Fridzon had a new EuroCup career-high scoring effort with 24 points, beating a personal mark that was almost a decade old. His previous best scoring night was against Panellinios Athens, when he played for Khimki Moscow Region, on February 24, 2009. He had 21 points that day.
Fridzon belongs to a select list of players who have won both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague (with CSKA Moscow in 2016) and the EuroCup. At age 33, his competitive spirit and winning mentality are as strong as ever, just like his shooting accuracy: Fridzon has made 20 of 46 three-point shots (43.5%) and 21 of 21 free throws (100%) this season. Expect him to hold on to a bigger role as the season goes on because Fridzon knows what it takes to win championships.