Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar is returning to the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals after blowing out Herbalife Gran Canaria 59-80 to complete a 2-0 sweep of their quarterfinals series. Dmitry Kulagin poured in a career-high 32 points with 4 three-pointers and 12-of-12 free throw shooting for a career-high index rating of 34. Kulagin’s previous scoring record came in Game 1 of the series against Gran Canaria with 20 points. Frank Elegar added 11 points and 8 rebounds off the Lokomotiv bench and Trevor Lacey scored 10 points after totaling just 1 in his last two EuroCup games. The victory also extends Lokomotiv’s EuroCup winning streak to 18 games, the second-longest in EuroCup history. Gran Canaria exit the competition despite 12 points from Ondrej Balvin while Guy Mekel and Anzejs Pasecniks both scored 11.
Kulagin’s three-pointer put the visitors on the board first and Brian Qvale made it 1-5 before Balvin’s tip-dunk provided Gran Canaria’s first basket after more than 4 minutes. After baskets from Lacey, Eulis Baez hit 4 points at the other end as Gran Canaria went up 12-9. Lokomotiv evened the game and then got a triple from Lacey, only to see Mekel’s three-point play knot it 15-15 after 10 minutes. Another Lacey three-ball had the guests ahead 15-20 before a pair of dunks from Balvin and a Xavi Rabaseda three-pointer to cut the deficit to 23-25. Nicolas Brussino would even the game at 25-25 but Qvale and Kulagin combined for 7 points in pushing the advantage to 27-32. Balvin threw down another dunk and Baez converted 4 free throws down the stretch and the score was 35-37 at the break.
Lokomotiv really turned up the defense in the second half while getting enough offensive effort — especially from Kulagin, whose three- and four-point plays opened up a 35-49 lead. Mekel finally scored Gran Canaria’s first points of the second half after more than 6 minutes. Mekel scored again and Pasecniks added 3 points as the gap was 44-53. Kulagin started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and Qvale made it 46-61. Gran Canania’s final push came as Pasecniks had two scores and Mekel’s steal and layup had the hosts to within 52-61. After a three-point play from Balvin, Gran Canaria was within 55-64. But Lokomotive held the hosts scoreless for 2 minutes and Kulagin had 2 free throws and a three-pointer to extend the lead to 55-74 with just over 2 minutes to play. Gran Canaria would not get closer than 17 points the rest of the way.
Lokomotiv wins its 18th EuroCup game in the season and gets to the semis of the championship where it will play against a winner of Reggio Emilia vs. Zenit duel.
Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
– First of all, we deserve the semifinals. Through all the competition, we play good basketball without a lost. It’s a little bit unrealistic. But we are happy with this under the circumstances. We miss three players in rotation, which is not easy. Without Broekhoff, Antipov, Ivlev, to find strength after a loss in the VTB League and beat such a serious opponent two times, even though here Gran Canaria are never underdogs. They are always competitive to any big teams. We did a great job tactically, first of all, in defense. We almost stop every offensive option from them. We controlled the result from the first to the last minute.
Dmitry Kulagin, Guard of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
– I’m happy to show my best in Lokomotiv Kuban and it contributes to our common goal. It’s nice to feel the support of partners, coaches, and fans. We’re on the right way and I’m sure we will reach set goals together. True character is shown in play-offs. Our team proved once again that cohesion is our power.