Lokomotiv Kuban vs. Darussafaka. EuroCup Finals. Preview

On April 10th, Lokomotiv Kuban starts the final series of EuroCup against Darussafaka Istanbul. A best-of-three format will determine the winner of the championship so it’s difficult to overestimate importance of the home game.

The Take

No mathematics, no calculations, no fight for a better position net round. There are only two teams, only one trophy, and a best-of-three series. This is the second EuroCup finals for Loko. And the first one for Darussafaka.

A home arena advantage is the most important for any series, especially for the finals. Darussafaka managed to lose it somehow in the last round of Top-16.

Home Arena Advantage

According to EuroCup rules, in playoffs (including the finals), it belongs to a team which has taken a higher place or has had better tiebreakers after Top-16. The regular season isn’t taken in account.

Thus, undefeated Loko could start the finals in Turkey due to its low PIR. However, Darussafaka suddenly was beaten by Gran Canaria, and Loko got its home arena advantage through all playoffs.

Was it a special plan by David Blatt? Loko-Darussafaka finals were the most expected turn of events in the season. If David wanted to finish the best-of-three series in Turkey and raise the cup, he had missed some details.

No team in EuroCup has found a way to beat Loko. Lokomotiv Kuban is still undefeated in the championship. It set a new record in the winning streak – 20 games.

It’s not an easy task to beat the best defense of EuroCup. Moreover, it’s even more difficult to do in front of Krasnodar fans. Loko allowed more than 85 points at home only once – against Bilbao, but the team got 102 points at the game. At the moment, Sasa Obradovic’s team allows 68.7 points in average and averages 82.7 points.

Fast Reggio Emilia failed to use its famous high-speed offenses in the series against tactically disciplined Loko. Krasnodar’s win was quite ordinary.

Darussafaka was a favorite in all its games before the finals. David Blatt is a legendary coach. The team is the second best defense of the tournament (71.2 allowed points). ScottieWilbekin is a basketball killer. Of course there were some small mistakes. Bayern had almost surprised Europe showing its best in the first semifinal game… But the German team was beaten in two games.

The Opponent

First of all, Loko fans are concerned about improving physical conditions of Darussafaka’s players. The Turks performed brightly in playoffs: Wilbekin got to Star Performance after First Quarterfinal;

Michael Eric was MVP in the first Bayern game. There were no competitors to him in Loko and Reggio Emilia;

41 points by Scottie Wilbekin in the second Bayern game made him MVP of all semifinals and later MVP of EuroCup 2017/2018.

Scottie averages 18.8 points, 5.1 assists, 20.9 PIR. He is the top player in the championship in points and PIR.

Top-10 players of EuroCup also include Jajuan Johnson. He is the second top player of Darussafaka: 14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 16 PIR.

Our Team

The Turks are a serious opponent but Lokomotiv Kuban is headed by the best coach of the year in EuroCup, Sasa Obradovic. Our coach dominated in the category.

It seems Dima Kulagin will always be associated with the quarterfinal series against Gran Canaria. Anthony Randolf was in the same situation after the fourth Barcelona game in 2016.

Dima got 58 point in two quarterfinals and provided Krasnodar with the advance to semifinals. The Russian guard became MVP of all quarterfinals and got to All EuroCup Second Team.

All EuroCup First Team includes another Loko player. The top scorer of Krasnodar in the championship failed to participate in playoffs because of an injury. But Ryan Broekhoff managed to maintain his place in Top-5 of EuroCup. He averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Top players of Loko are the following:

Frank Elegar got great conditions ahead of the finals: he is the top scorer of EuroCup in accuracy of 2-pointers – 71.4 per cent. Frank averages no less than 5 rebounds in previous 8 games. He also shot all previous 11 free throws.


Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban

— Darussafaka is not just Wilbekin to stop. The other guys are also full quality players who we need to respect and play them to their quality. Coach Blatt with his high level coaching is a good challenge for me to face. First game is always hard because both teams have time to prepare. A bit more pressure will be on our side but we play home and we need to use this.

Brian Qvale, Center of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban

— This first game is the most important game of our season and we know it. We need to use our home court advantage and the great atmosphere the Loko fans will provide. They are a very talented team. But we have worked extremely hard to get to this point and we need to put 110% of our focus and effort into this game for the full 40 minutes!


2017/2018 EuroCup finals start in Krasnodar on April 10th at 8:00 p.m. Moscow time.

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