Few might be surprised by another good offensive display by Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Round 9, as the Russian powerhouse faced Wednesday's game against MoraBanc Andorra with a league-leading scoring average of more than 90 points per night.
Indeed, Lokomotiv surpassed the 100-point barrier for the third time this season in taking a valuable 100-106 road win that almost secured it second place in Group C.
"It was an offensive game, both teams scored 100 or more points, and both teams were more offensively oriented," Lokomotiv head coach Evgeny Pashutin recognized after the win.
With one game left to play, Lokomotiv currently ranks fourth in team scoring all-time in the 7Days EuroCup Regular Season with 92.7 points per game, behind only Ventspils (92.9 in 2004-05), Avtodor Saratov (94.7 in 2015-16) and Gran Canaria (94.7 in 201617). But, if you look deeper at Lokomotiv's trajectory this season, that is not the team's most remarkable achievement.
In fact, Lokomotiv has already made EuroCup history by becoming the first team since the competition was born in 2002 to score 105 points or more in three games of the same season. Not only has Lokomotiv accomplished that in a mere nine games, but all three performances of at least 105 points have happened without overtime and on the road!
The first time Lokomotiv reached 100 or more points was in Round 3, when they punished Lietkabelis at the Cido Arena in Panevezys, Lithuania, 76-105. The next one came in Belgium, with Telenet Giants Antwerp as the victim in a 94-114 decision. And third was MoraBanc, which received its highest points-against total, home or away, in 54 EuroCup games over four seasons.
The main difference between its first two offensive shows and this one was the absence of starting center Alan Williams, who was Lokomotiv's top performer until he suffered a season-ending knee injury recently. In Lithuania and Belgium, Williams had averaged 22 points and 17 rebounds. Without him, Lokomotiv managed to maintain a superb offensive performance.
"I am happy for us because we lived without our main center, Allan Williams... and we kind of constructed our new style of basketball," Pashutin explained.
The head coach chose two new lineup configurations, starting with Reggie Lynch at the center and relocating other players to rebuild the frontcourt.
"We also played with two 'fours', using Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Stanislav Ilnitskiy inside, in a small lineup, but more mobile," he added.
Among the players who adjusted best was Kevin Hervey, who in spite of not having played center in any previous EuroCup game, dominated at that position against Andorra. Hervey not only scored 23 points, but added 13 rebounds to make up for the absences of Williams and, after he fouled out with 7 minutes left to play, Lynch.
All these changes seemed to work fine for Coach Pashutin, as Lokomotiv's offensive production was good as ever, with Jordan Crawford (23 points) and Will Cummings (20) providing scoring balance from the perimeter.
Now, Pashutin wants to perfect those changes, which should put future opponents on alert.
"We played like that for the first time and it was not easy," Pashutin said. "From now on, we have to work on this variation."