Lokomotiv's Williams left a mark in his long-awaited return

Oct 27, 2021 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Lokomotiv's Williams left a mark in his long-awaited return

It is not often that a player collecting 5 points and 6 rebounds is worthy of extra attention - unless perhaps he nails the game-winner of a tight battle. And while Alan Williams did not decide the game, it was certainly a big story that he played 24 minutes for Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.

The 28-year-old big man also dished an assist and blocked a shot in Lokomotiv’s tough 84-85 road victory over Lietkabelis Panevezys. Some may notice Williams’s shooting woes and worry about him hitting just 2 of 9 attempts. But that is quite normal considering it was his first game since November 2020, when he suffered a patellar ligament rupture in his left knee that required surgery.

“I am happy for Alan Williams to come back. He helped us defensively,” Lokomotiv coach Evgeny Pashutin said of his returning center.

Rewind to before the injury and Williams was an absolute superstar in the EuroCup, averaging 14.5 points, a league-best 12.5 rebounds to go with 1.3 blocks through eight games. Playing his second year with Lokomotiv, Williams also was ranked third in PIR with 21.1 per game. He had posted five consecutive double-doubles, an achievement not seen in the EuroCup since Mario Austin did it for Hapoel Jerusalem in the 2006-07 campaign.

After more than 11 months since his last game, Williams finally got back on the court with 7:16 minutes left in the first quarter against Lietkabelis after starting center Johnathan Motley picked up two quick fouls. Williams immediately missed his first shot and then blocked Nikola Radicevic at the other end.

Motley was dominant while he was on the court. The problem was he struggled to stay on the hardwood with his foul issues. Motley went off again in the third quarter with his fourth foul and Lokomotiv down 52-48. Williams replaced him and played a major role in the Russian powerhouse finding its game.

He grabbed a rebound, scored a layup and snatched a steal that led to a teammate’s layup to finish off a 0-12 run with a 52-58 advantage. Williams added a big basket early in the fourth quarter and grabbed a defensive rebound later in the final frame.

But Williams’s performance should not be judged by his stats alone. Just having a big man of his quality back in the mix is a major boost of confidence in a Lokomotiv team already full of belief and talent.

It can be expected that Williams will deserve plenty of attention over the course of the season - and most likely for much more than just 5 points and 6 rebounds.