Loko wins, but Uralmash advances further

In an incredibly dramatic match of the 1/4 finals of the Winline Russian Cup, Lokomotiv-Kuban defeats Uralmash (78:68), but that is enough for Ekaterinburg team to advance further on aggregate.

Before the game, Lokomotiv-Kuban made a change in their cup entry: DeVaughn Akun-Purcell replaced Jaylen Barford as the second foreign player, joining Okaro White. Uralmash did not change their roster: the same Stanley Whittaker and Octavius Ellis. All four appeared in the starting lineups of their teams.

Guest captain Anton Glazunov opened the score in the 20th second with a throw from inside the three-second zone. Soon Ellis added 2 more points from the free throw line. Loko was able to break the score only at the end of the 2nd minute – White scored 2+1. A bit later Ellis added 2 points, in response to which Akoon-Purcell was precise from behind the three-point line – and made the score even. In the next attack, Akoon-Purcell made one more long-range attempt, the ball bounced at the hoop, and White put it in, leading the hosts ahead, 8:6.

Whittaker equalized, but not for long: Vladislav Yemchenko hit the target with a long-range shot. In the next attack, Ellis violated the three-second rule, and White cleverly passed the ball to Kirill Elatontsev for a throw without resistance. Then White forced Nikita Balashov to commit an offensive foul, and made in both free throws – 16:9.

“We need to create our advantage step by step, defense by defense,” said Loko assistant coach Jurica Žuža in a pre-match interview. “Defense should be our main focus for this match. First, defend, then try to run away and score easy baskets”.

In the 1st quarter, the players of the Krasnodar team quite regularly followed this setup: they forced Whittaker and Kirill Mikheev to make a travelling violation, then Balashov, under pressure from the defense in red, passed to nowhere, then Elatontsev burst into the fight for the offensive rebound so that Dmitry Uzinsky had no problems took the ball… After Elatontsev’s dunk, the score became 22:13, and the Uralmash coaching staff decided to thwart the opponent’s impulse with a time-out. Before the end of the quarter, the teams managed to exchange accurate three-pointers by Aleksandrov, Zakharov and Shcherbenev. 25:16 – or, if you count the sum of two matches, 92:96.

Loko started the second period of the game with fierce defense. During these minutes, Uralmash sometimes did not even manage to cross the middle line. On the minus side: the hosts already reached the foul limit for the quarter in the second minute. And they still couldn’t score – until Kirill Temirov put the ball into the goal from the very corner of the court, 28:19.

Glazunov and Whittaker quickly scored 4 points back, and in the next episode Loko missed three shots in one attack. But then Uzinsky started his solo: he scored from the middle range, then from the long distance. A moments later, Andrey Martyuk dunked, despite the three opponents hanging on his shoulders – 37:28!

While defending, Yemchenko snatched the ball from Ivan Pynko’s hands – and White successfully made 2+1 for his second time in the game. 40:28, and the score on the sum of two matches gets almost equal! Two minutes before the end of the quarter referees sent Whittaker to treat a bleeding scratch on his shoulder (Akoon-Purcell drew their attention to this), and White and Elatontsev from the free throw line brought Loko’s advantage to “+13” “, giving equality on the sum of two matches – 44:31. Elatontsev, in general, showed himself very well: he was in no way inferior to Ellis at the posts, and delivered a beautiful block-shot to Glazunov. Before the big break, the opponents exchanged another 1-point-attacks and went to the locker rooms to listen to the coaches’ instructions with a score of 45:32 (112:112, if you count together with the match in Yekaterinburg).

During the long break, children from the choreographic studio “Bravo” of the Center for Children’s Creativity “Prikubansky” took to the floor. Their dance inspired the 2,500 spectators to cheer even more selflessly. As a result, the 7th quarter of the confrontation began with an accurate average throw from Shcherbenev. And as soon as Whittaker won back 2 points, Martyuk and Akoon-Purcell, with their dunks, made Loko’s advantage the maximum for all this time – 51:34 (118:114).

Ellis became increasingly nervous – and eventually got a technical foul for throwing the ball back to the referee too hard. Both coaches also received a technical foul. The game looked more and more like a battle! And Uralmash had its own successful periods in this battle. Pynko scored 5 points in 5 seconds, then Akoon-Purcell received his 4th foul and went to the bench to cool down a bit. After Glazunov’s three-pointer the situation became alarming – 57:48 (124:128).

But Martyuk scored both free throws, and at the beginning of the 8th quarter Zakhar Vedishchev tied the score again – 61:48. Pisklov scored from a mid-range, Akoon-Purcell responded with two precise free throws. Equality again – 63:50 (120:120)!

Zakharov from behind the three-point line brought Uralmash ahead again. Akoon-Purcell made a turnover, Elatontsev blocked an opponent’s shot, but Uzinsky fumbled and lost a ball, making Zakharov score 2 easy points – 63:55 (120:125).

Aleksander Sekulić asked for a time-out, after which Akoon-Purcell cleverly made Balashov foul – after that Uralmash forward had to leave the game. Loko’ forward scored both free throws, and then Yemchenko added a three-pointer – the total score is equal once again, 68:55 (125:125)!

But in the next minute and a half, only Uralmash scored: Ellis from distance, Zakharov from the mid-range, Ellis from the free-throw line. 68:61 (125:131) three and a half minutes before the end! Akoon-Purcell responded with 2 points, Shcherbenev added another one – but Zakharov was again accurate from the 5 meters distance – 71:63 (128:133).

One more accurate free throw from Yemchenko, but Glazunov hits it from behind the three-point line, and 2 minutes before the end of the quarter the score begins to look critical – 72:66 (129:136). Loko began to play very carefully. Martyuk was brought out to the undefended hoop, then Akoon-Purcell scored 2 points – 76:66 (133:136), and a minute of time left.

Loko managed to contain the next Uralmash attack, and a moments later Akoon-Purcell forced Glazunov to get his fifth foul! He scored both free-throws – 78:66 (135:136) just 26 seconds to the final siren!

Zakharov also scored, and in the last seconds Akun-Purcell made a long-range attempt, also trying the opponent to foul. The stands stood quiet – it may seem that there actually was a foul. But referees gave no whistle. As a result, Loko won by 10 points, but this was not enough.

The Krasnodar team will play its next match on February 11 away in the VTB United League, against Zenit. Then there will be a break for the All-Star Game, then Russian national teams of different ages will gather to train. The next homa game will only be on March 10 – against CSKA.

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