Final Four team profile: Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

Apr 29, 2016 by Print
Final Four team profile: Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

Final Four newcomer Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, having already made plenty of history this season, has no intention of stopping yet. In becoming the 29th club ever to qualify for a Final Four, Lokomotiv is also the only team from Russia other than its semifinal opponent, CSKA Moscow, to accomplish the feat. Considering that Lokomotiv celebrates its 70th birthday this year, this was a fine time to reach new heights, just three years after the club won the Eurocup title.

Although it is the only team in Berlin that did not sweep its playoff series, Lokomotiv has plenty to offer as a title contender, starting with an elite defense that allowed the fewest points per game this season while forcing more turnovers than any other Final Four team. On offense, Lokomotiv attempted and made the most three-pointers in the Euroleague and broke Top 16 records for both categories.

After winning its regular season group ahead of eventual playoff opponent FC Barcelona Lassa, Lokomotiv proceeded to power through the Top 16, too. Lokomotiv set a Top 16 record with 11 three-pointers per game while finishing a new group in second place to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs, which would prove to be crucial.

In Game 1 of a best-of- five series with Barcelona, head coach Georgios Bartzokas's men scored the final 8 points to win 66-61 behind 17 points and 10 rebounds from Anthony Randolph as the fans in Krasnodar were witness to the team's first-ever Euroleague playoffs victory. After losing Game 2 at home 66-92 and then dropping Game 3 in Barcelona by 82-70, Lokomotiv brought the series back to Russia thanks to an instant-classic 80-92 overtime road win in Game 4. Randolph ruled the extra period, outscoring Barcelona 10-4 himself, to lead five Lokomotiv scorers in double figures with 28 points. In the series finale, Lokomotiv trailed early in the fourth quarter before Chris Singleton's 11 unanswered points turned the tide for an 81-67 clincher that guaranteed the team's Final Four debut.

Winning Game 5 was another historic moment in Krasnodar, but Lokomotiv wants more, specifically to become the first sports team from its city to bring home the continental crown!