As in the early stories of Jack London, a blizzard and a blizzard gathered a plentiful human harvest today. A fair percentage of those who bought tickets did not get to the match. And in vain – the game predictably turned out to be double-edged, like xiphos.
The first attack of the guests was effectively completed by ex-Lokomotiv player Dragan Apic. But the best athlete of Kuban last year, Andrey Martyuk, immediately revived with a crushing throw from above. And a minute later he tried to tear off the ring again after a tricky fake head-off – but his rivals almost tore off his hands. However, Martyuk himself had a complete order with aggression and charge – after his next poster dunk, he unintentionally, but rigidly saddled Alexander Gankevich. According to the results of the first half, it was the Loko forward with 12 points who became the most productive in the compositions of both teams.
At the same time, the guests were in the account most of the time. It seems that the Loko coaching staff managed to sort out the details of the game of the leader of Paris NN, Jermaine Love, and convey their plan to the wards – only 2 points in the performance of the American by the big break. But on the other hand, two other defenders, Honored Masters of Sports of the Russian Federation and bronze medalists of the London Olympics Dmitry Khvostov and Anton Ponkrashov unwound the flywheel of the guests’ attack, like David – his favorite sling. As a result, the Nizhny Novgorod players threw 19 times from a distance in the first 20 minutes (they hit 8) – and almost all of these throws were free.
After another long–range hit by Khvostov, the Volzhans ran ahead by 11 points – 41:30. However, the end of the half remained for Loko. The hosts added aggression in defense, Jaylen Barford converted interceptions into quick breakaways twice in a row – a 10:0 spurt and only “-1” by the break.
After the resumption of the game, Robin Hood mode was turned on by another former railroad worker, the captain of “Pari NN” Evgeny Baburin – 3 three-pointers in a row. However, Loko found an effective answer every time or almost every time – in the middle of the quarter, after Chris Horton hit, the lead shifted to the home team, 51:50.
…The wards of Alexander Sekulich came to this game in an orange-gold uniform. The shape of the color of the Krasnodar sun, ripe wheat ears and the hairstyle of Vladislav Demchenko. Given the blizzard and snowstorm that was happening behind the arena, the new Loko dress code looked symbolic. It remained to associate this festive color palette with victory – but with this the case has been stalled for a long time. Nizhny Novgorod residents periodically snatched the lead, like hot potatoes from a cast iron pot. Only at the end of the period, 6 points in a row by Zakhar Vedishchev gave the hosts the maximum advantage for this match – “+4”.
At the beginning of the final quarter, a personal mini-performance was arranged by DeVon Akun-Purcell. To the applause of another American newcomer, Okaro White, who joined the team today (his first interview in Russia can be viewed here), the forward made a couple of medium Jordan throws with a deflection, treated Horton to a gorgeous candy pass and made an interception, forcing Apich to grab the fifth foul – 70:62 in favor of Loko.
Soon the preponderance of the hosts grew to “+9”. As it turned out – only in order to cringe after a couple of minutes with the discarded snake skin to the distance of just one throw (72:69, 74:71…).
Very timely and very successfully swung the formidable axe of his throw Barford – 76:71 3 minutes before the expected end of the match. In the next attack, Akun-Purcell scored from a difficult situation in the style of last year’s Loko leader, Errick McCollum – flying over the parquet parallel to the court (78:71). And half a minute later, both Americans of the Krasnodar club seemed to have not only issued a victory, but also, perhaps, the most beautiful episode of both the week and the month of the VTB United League – Akun-Purcell made a cool canopy, and Barford drove an ecomach into the ring with one hand!
But “+9” a little more than a minute before the end, as it turned out, did not guarantee the hosts a cloudless ending. A series of inexplicable losses – and the guests, in the tradition of Tracy McGrady, regained their balance, 80:80 26 seconds before the end of the fourth period. Barford threw to win–or rather, he should have thrown. But – he made another loss, and in a counterattack Maxim Salash brought the victory to the guests simultaneously with the end of the game time.
Lokomotiv-Kuban will hold its next match on February 10 – against the leader of the VTB United League, CSKA Moscow. The beginning is at 20:00, tickets are on the website lokobasket.com . We remind you that this game will be charity – all profits will be directed to the development of children’s and youth basketball in the Krasnodar Territory.