Lokomotiv sweat out win, book Top 16 ticket
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar booked its ticket to the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 with a 94-90 home victory over Lietkabelis Panevezys on Wednesday. Lokomotiv led by 17 points with 4 minutes left, but watched as the guests trimmed it to 4 points late. Mindaugas Kuzminskas led the way with 20 points for 2013 EuroCup champion Lokomotiv, which exorcised the demons of last season when the club failed to reach the Top 16 for the first time in its history. Jordan Crawford added 17 points, Stanislav Ilnitskiy had 13 and Will Cummings and Reggie Lynch both chipped in 10 points for Lokomotiv, which jumped to 6-2 in Group C. Margiris Normantas paced Lietkabelis with 23 points along with 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals for an index rating of 30 off the bench. Paulius Valinskas tallied 19 points and Gabrieljius Maldunas and Kyle Vinales both added 12 points in the loss, which dropped Lietkabelis’s record to 1-5 in the group.
Paulius Valinskas opened the scoring in the game for Lietkabelis. Kuzminskas started on fire at the other end with 9 points, including 5 in a 14-2 run over 5 minutes to move ahead 21-8. Vinales tallied 7 points for the guests to trim the gap to 26-18. But Grigory Motovilov hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it 29-18 after 10 minutes. Lietkabelis went the first 2 minutes without a point and Cummings tallied 6 points as the Lokomotiv lead grew to 39-22. Normantas managed two scores for Lietkabelis, but Crawford drained a pair of triples and had a steal and layup before lnitskiy’s three extended the gap to 52-32. Vytenis Lipkevicius gave Lietkabelis some hope with 2 three-pointers and it was 52-38 at the break.
After Lipkevicius started the scoring in the second half, Kuzminskas hit a triple and Mantas Kalnietis pushed the gap to 59-40. Lietkabelis chipped its way back into the game from long range as Paulius Valinskas, Erikas Venskus, Paulius Poska and Normantas drained triples to make it 70-60. The score was 72-62 after 30 minutes. Normantas's three-point play to open the fourth got the score into single figures. Ilnitskiy and Vinales swapped three-pointers and then Kuzminskas followed from long range and added a three-point play. Kevin Hervey also hit from deep and Kuzminskas made it 90-73 with 4 minutes left. Lietkabelis had one more fight left with Paulius Valinskas hitting a three-pointer and Normantas draining another triple to cut the deficit to 92-86 with 90 seconds left. After Lokomotiv failed to convert, Paulius Valinskas's free throws made it 92-88 with 18 seconds to play. Crawford iced the game though with 2 foul shots with 8 seconds remaining.
Back in Top 16
Lokomotiv was in shock last season when it failed to get out of the regular season. It was the first time that the club had not reached at least the quarterfinals in its six EuroCup appearances - including winning the title in 2013 and reaching the final in 2018. But Lokomotiv fans can rejoice about being back into the next stage.
Lithuanians beat the Lithuanians
Lokomotiv’s Lithuanian duo of Mantas Kalnietis and Mindaugas Kuzminskas starred as the team got the best of their Lithuanian opponent. Kuzminskas had 20 points and 4 rebounds and Kalnietis added 6 points and 11 assists.
Lietkabelis's 90 points were a season-high; it was the only team in the league averaging less than 70 points per game. Lokomotiv shot 60.0% from two-point range and 45.8% on three-pointers while Lietkabelis connected on only 51.4% of it two-point attempts.
Lokomotiv will have a break before heading back on the road for Round 9; it will take on MoraBanc Andorra on Wednesday, December 9. Lietkabelis remains on the road to take on Virtus Segafredo Bologna on Friday, November 20 in a Round 6 makeup game.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020