The southernmost city among those where there are VTB United League teams, it was impossible to recognize on the day of the match: a blizzard, snowdrifts and other unpleasant attributes of hell in its Islamic version. Considering that Krasnodar reckless drivers, in principle, do not have the habit of changing their iron horses for the winter, a huge number of accidents have reliably blocked the roads with traffic jams. To get to the “Basket Hall” and in normal weather – the quest is still the same, so there was a reasonable fear that many fans, even from among those who bought tickets in advance, would not get to the match. The club has done everything possible to minimize the weather factor, but, of course, it is impossible to eliminate it completely.
The overall statistics of the Loko and Pari NN meetings are in favor of the red–green, 14 wins with 8 defeats. However, both meetings this season ended with the wins of Zoran Lukic’s wards with a double-digit difference. Moreover, the last one took place relatively recently – on January 5.
However, since then, Loko has risen like a formidable phoenix and first fought with the current champion Zenit, and then won 4 victories in a row. And if the first two were from the category “everything is going according to plan” – over the outsiders of the tournament “Minsk” and “Astana”, then the double triumph in St. Petersburg and Kazan became a sensation. Meanwhile, Pari NN did not receive positive emotions in the last two meetings: first, the Volga team missed a victory away over UNICS, leading “+8” in the final quarter, and then lost to CSKA at home without any special options.
Bookmakers consider Loko to be the favorite of the evening match – the coefficient for his victory is about 1.3. However, the chances of winning … UNICS in the recent match with the railwaymen were estimated in the same way. In general, in the “Top-6” at the second stage, nominal underdogs are either winning (Zenit interrupted CSKA’s 24-match winning streak yesterday; Loko beat Zenit and UNICS on the road), or miss victories in the last seconds (IBA away with Zenit; “Pari NN” on a visit with UNICS). The exception were two confident victories of CSKA over the IBA and Pari NN.
The entire coaching staff is doing a tremendous job to make Loko’s wins possible at the second stage. One of the mentors of “Loco” Roman Semerninov together with us sorted out “Pari NN” by the bones. By the way, quite recently, under the guidance of Lukic, he worked at the training camps of the first national team – and, accordingly, he learned the game philosophy of the Serbian mentor even better during this time.
- Roman Evgenievich, what one word would you describe the style of play of Nizhny Novgorod?
- – Aggressive.
- In defense, Zoran Lukic's wards often play a spade or a shift?
- – Usually – a very aggressive spade. But they also change, of course, according to the situation.
- And in the attack?
- – They play "motion" – continuous attack. They often use an early attack – usually such actions in attack are compared to the game of Maccabi Tel Aviv at the beginning of the XXI century. Very often they make a "slip screen" – a sliding screen. This is when a big player of the attacking team sees that the defense is playing an aggressive spade, and depicts that he will make a barrier to his little one – but de facto does not reach him, but falls under the ring, forcing his big opponent to lose position. The high players of Nizhny Novgorod, especially Dragan Apic, who played for Loko, like to use a "fake hand-off": they stand with their backs to the ring on the three-point arc or on the penalty area and pretend that they will pass the ball from hand to hand to the point guard. And then they turn around abruptly and go into the passage to the ring. Volzhans very often catch rivals on this. In general, we can say that their entire offensive game is built on reading the opponent's defense and quick reaction to the actions of this defense. Under the leadership of Lukich, experienced basketball players who read the game quickly and well are gathered.
- Who in the composition of "Pari NN" should be most afraid of?
- – The leader of Nizhny Novgorod is defender Jermaine Love. A great player. If he feels the game, he can score the hardest shots and score 30 points per match. He has good driving, as well as a good average throw and a three-pointer, he beats one-on-one. Dmitry Khvostov, the bronze medalist of the 2012 Olympic Games, has recently been experiencing a second youth. Moves very fast, implements throws with powerful resistance. Serbian Nikola Rebic scores and passes – a good first number, able to drag the team behind him. Ex-Loko forward Dragan Apic plays a center in Paris NN. He's progressing well. Apich is left–handed, but lately he has also turned on his right hand, scoring a lot of heavy throws from under the ring with it. He played both games with us at a very high level. Maxim Salash is also good in recent matches… Well, all the Russian guys of the Nizhny Novgorod team play high-quality basketball, they act aggressively throughout the playground. We can also mention Alexander Chadov, the fourth number with a decent throw. And, of course, it is impossible to underestimate the influence on the game of "Pari NN" of the captain (also, by the way, a former player of "Loko") – Evgeny Baburin. He spends an average of 28.5 minutes on the court, implements three-pointers with a percentage of 38. In general, we have a very serious test ahead of us.
The seriousness of the preparation for the match is evidenced by the fact that today, after the morning training, the players did not go home, but took the club bus to the Youth Training Center in Kolosisty. There, the team has lunch, sleep and afternoon tea according to the schedule. Then, also on the club bus, the players will all arrive together at the “Basket Hall” for the match.
Of course, we urge fans to travel to the match in advance to avoid traffic jams. The doors of the “Basket Hall” will open at 18:30 – and from the same time a powerful interactive entertainment will work.
If someone still fails to overcome the blizzard and stays at home to watch the match on a blue screen, TV Start offers a live broadcast. Of course, the video of the match will also be available on the websites lokobasket.com and VTB United League.
And don’t forget that a pre-match interactive studio is waiting for you on the VKontakte club page at 19:15. Today we have a special star guest!