The match against Runa was Andrey Martyuk’s 136th for Loko. Thanks to this, the 23-year-old center surpassed Grigory Shukhovtsov and became the team’s leader in the number of games among the current squad.
However, Martyuk lost the opening jump-ball to Alex Tyus, and Runa scored first through the efforts of Alexa Radanov. A few seconds later, Tyus made it 4:0 in favor of the hosts. However, Loko needed even less time to even the score: Martyuk made two excellent passes – first to Dmitry Uzinsky, then to DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell. To these two assists, the center of the Krasnodar club swiftly added 4 rebounds and a fabulous block-shot, which we will probably see in the “moments of the week” chart.
As demanded by Jurica Žuža, who was temporarily replacing Alexander Sekulić as a head coach, Loko players made big effort in hindering Runa’s attacking play. After the hosts where whistled two travelling violations in a row, their coach Ertugrul Erdogan received a technical foul, and Okaro White from the free-throw line brought the advantage of the Krasnodar team to “+12” – 14:6.
Soon Maurice Ndour made his debut for Loko. The Senegalese missed his first field attempt, but a little later he scored two free throws, making the score 22:8. The quarter ended with an accurate lay-up by Kirill Elatontsev, who was actively pressed by two opponents. 24:8 – time to remember another interesting statistical fact: if Runa scores 63 points or less against Lokomotiv-Kuban at the end of the match, then for the entire first round of the regular season the Krasnodar team will concede less than 2000 points.
However, in the 2nd quarter some more open basketball started. Ndour scored a mid-range shot, but a few seconds later he fouled Nikola Ivanović, who scored 3+1 in this attack. Juwan Morgan, Cameron Young and Ivanović once again responded to Elatontsev’s and White’s goals with accurate free throws. Akoon-Purcell missed three shots in one attack, made a turnover 10 seconds later – bat immediately redeemed with a perfect three-pointer, 38:23. Jeremiah Hill took the ball from Vladislav Yemchenko, who also made a steal a couple of episodes later. As a result of this rather chaotic quarter, Runa reduced the gap, although Loko continued to lead with a double-digit lead – 43:32.
The start of the 3rd quarter witnessed an exchange in attacks, in which both teams scored 2+1 – first White did it, then Young. Then Young continued from the free throw line reducing Runa’s lag to 9 points, but soon Akoon-Purcell demonstrated miracles of acrobatics and accuracy under the opponent’s hoop – 48:37.
Then the game again became sticky, as at the start of the match: Elatontsev’s interception, Ilya Popov’s block-shot, goal attempts from awkward positions… Loko, however, was more accurate in scoring, and after two consecutive hits from behind the three-point line by Alexander Shcherbenev and White, the score became 58:42. However, with the efforts of Young, Morgan and Hill, Runa were once again just 10 points behind by the end of the quarter.
The final quarter began with Jaylen Barford’s long-shot miss, and another shot blocked by Young. Runa managed to come within one attack range after that! Zakhar Vedishchev came to the rescue – his 3-pointer seemed desperate at first, but it hit the target, 64:58!
Two minutes of mutual drought followed, ended with Akoon-Purcell’s successful long shot. Radanov scored the next 4 points – 67:62 by 4 ½ minutes till the end. Yemchenko missed two free throws, Morgan intercepted Uzinsky’s pass, but immediately gave the ball to White. However, Uzinsky made offensive foul and Morgan immediately made another loss, which Akoon-Purcell converted into 2 points: 69:62 with just over 3 minutes left.
After a time-out taken by Erdogan, Ivanović scored the 2000th point of the season into the Lokomotiv-Kuban basket. However, Akoon-Purcell immediately made in the mi-range shot after a good step-back – 71:64. Young was fouled, but missed both free throws, and White scored his 24th point in the game from the long distance, thus impressing the pretty populous stand of Loko fans.
Runa rushed to equalize – and Loko willingly got involved into the exchange of quick attacks. Danila Pokhodyaev scored two points – Elatontsev responded with the same. Ivanović added two, then Loko lost the ball, Morgan made two free throws – just to see White throwing a great quarterback pass across the entire court. Uzinsky was precise: 78:70, and 31 seconds left.
After Erdogan’s timeout, Morgan easily scored 2 points, Yemchenko earned a foul on himself – and again missed both free throws (0 out of 6 in the game, joint anti-record of the league!). Immediately Radanov rushed under the opponent’s hoop and dunked the ball – 78:74 with 22 seconds left, so now it was Žuža’s turn to take a time-out.
The ball was given to Barford, who was fouled, and cold-bloodedly made in both of his attempts. In a desperate response, Runa attacked the basket three times in a row, until eventually this impulse was stopped by a block-shot by White. Akoon-Purcell picked up the ball and did not allow the opponents to foul on him until the final whistle. 80:74 – a difficult victory for Lokomotiv-Kuban.
The next game will be a very difficult test for Loko: Uralmash BC will come to Krasnodar on February, 7th. This will be the second game of the ¼ finals of the Winline Russian Cup. To advance further, Loko must win with a difference of “+14” or higher. We count on your support! See you at Basket Hall!