Loko suffers a painful defeat in St. Petersburg

Having scored only 23 points in the second half, Lokomotiv-Kuban suffered a devastating away loss to Zenit – 67:106.

Despite the fact that Zenit scored first (Georgy Zhbanov did this after a pass from Kyle Kuric), Lokomotiv-Kuban quickly seized the initiative: first, Andrey Martyuk, after an excellent team ball movement, scored 2+1 in one attack, then Okaro White scored 3+2 within a minute interval, and both of these attacks looked like a worthy example of team effort.

Until the middle of the 1st quarter, the Krasnodar team was quite confidently ahead, holding a distance of 2 to 5 points: Martyuk and Kirill Elatontsev did a great post-up work, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell precisely hit the basket, and Alexander Scherbenev responded equally to Thomas Heurtel’s three-pointer. Kuric nevertheless equalized the score in the 7th minute – 18:18, and then even brought Zenit ahead, but Maurice Ndour quickly made the numbers even again. Alas, these turned out to be our last points in the 1st quarter. The hosts (mainly through the efforts of Heurtel) easily made the margin big – 20:29.

At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, after two free-throws by Bojan Dubljevic, the margin hit the double-digit. Lokomotiv-Kuban started to dig in defensively. But nothing worked in the attack either, so for the next two and a half minutes the audience watched basketball without any score. Then it broke through: White and Jaylen Barford made two long-range shots in a row, and Barford scored another 2-pointer later with a foul, which he also converted – 30:31. And as soon as Vince Hunter increased the lead to “+3”, Akoon-Purcell scored from afar – and the score became even!

Trent Fraser and Akoon-Purcell exchanged difficult baskets, then Kuric and Akoon-Purcell exchanged again, then Zenit took a run, and it is unknown how far they could get if not for another acrobatic hit by our American-Trinidadian – 44:49 by the end of the half.

However, in the final half of the match, things became very bad with Loko’ accuracy: after Burford’s lay-up in the starting seconds of the quarter, everybody in red-green started missing everything. Except, perhaps, for Martyuk, who turned berserker mode on and mercilessly tossed around Hunter, Dubljevic, and even both at once.

The situation got even worse after referees considered that White had thrown the ball away too aggressively and sent the player off. Loko still managed to hold the defense for some time, Shcherbenev scored from a distance, so the loss in the 3rd was quite tolerable (11:20), and the overall score remained outplayable – 55:69.

So, when Martyuk dunked at the very beginning of the 4th quarter, it seemed like a fairy tale may begin. In did so, but that turned out to be not a Krasnodar’ fairy tale at all.

Zenit made a run you rarely see: Serguei Karasev hit the 8-meter shot off the backboard at the very end of 24 seconds; Fraser added acrobatic three after a hard save of the ball from behind the sideline; 3 difficult points from Kuric (okay, just we we’ve seen this from Kuric already); a spectacular lay-up by Zhbanov (!); a long-range hit for the hit parade from Andrei Zubkov…

Loko, on the contrary, did not succeed at all in these five minutes. The 0:25 run completely killed the intrigue in the game. It’s painful to describe, and there is no sense in it. Thanks for understanding.

Lokomotiv-Kuban goes to a long break having suffered one of the most devastating defeats in its history. The next game in the VTB United League is March 2 in Kazan. And the team will next play in Krasnodar on March 10, against CSKA.

Still, the battle for the title is just beginning. Zenit will visit us in March. Go to the games, support Loko, we really need you. See you in Basket Hall.

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