Loko lost a dramatic game in Kazan

Lokomotiv-Kuban lost to UNICS with a score of 76:80. Jaylen Barford scored 33 points in his 100th game for the Krasnodar club.

Loko entered the match without DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who was injured in training session the day before. The Krasnodar’ players decided to compensate for the absence of their scoring leader with dedication: Kirill Elatontsev won the opening throw-in, and after a fine passing, Dmitry Uzinsky found himself in front of the open hoop – alas, he missed. The Loko captain soon corrected himself by intercepting the ball from Ismael Bako, but the second attack of the guests also ended in vain. Only when the score was 0:5, Elatontsev finally opened the score for Loko from the close distance.

Scoring was difficult for Loko these minutes. There were some pleasant moments, like Jaylen Barford’s accurate three-pointer, which made the score 5:8. And a precise 2-pointer by Vladislav Yemchenko from the free throw sector.

But in general, UNICS was very good on defense: 3 blocked shots and 3 interceptions in the 1st quarter, which was won by the hosts with a score of 24:12. Soon, UNICS’s advantage reached “+17” – 31:14, Bako added with his third (and 4th for the team) block-shot, Nenad Dimitriević continued to shoot without missing, scoring 18 points…

At that moment Loko’ve woke up. Barford, for whom this match was the 100th for the Krasnodar team, not only began to hit the opponent’s hoop without a miss, but also grabbed Dimitriević so that by the big break his percentage of hits had dropped to human-like values. Andrey Martyuk and Elatontsev each blocked a shot, Okaro White hit from afar – that’s how the gap was no longer double-digit – 27:36.

Louis Labeyrie scored two free throws, but then Yemchenko gave a great pass to the perimeter to Martyuk, who deftly broke under the hoop, ending his slalom with an elegant lay-up – 29:38. In the next attack, UNICS lost Dmitry Kulagin – the February MVP of the league twisted his ankle and limped to the locker room with the support of club doctors. Then Bako made his 4th block-shot, but no! The referees found a foul in the Belgian’s actions – and Maurice Ndour from the free throw line took Loko to the distance of two accurate attacks, albeit long-range ones – 33:39. And, although the quarter ended with a three-pointer by Marcos Knight (33:42), the mood of the fans of the Krasnodar team definitely improved: compared to the opening ten minutes, the guests noticeably started to do better both in attack and defense.

By the way, about the fans: right behind the guest bench, Loko was supported by a family of fans from Yeisk: Oleg, Elena and their daughter Elizaveta. Lisa turned 17 that day; the trip to game was a gift from her parents. The club also had something for the birthday girl – a jersey and a video greeting, which was personally recorded for Lisa by her favorite player Anton Kvitkovskikh. Woo-hoo!

The next quarter began with a rapid exchange in scoring efforts: Knight, Dimitriević and Eric Green made 2-pointers, Martyuk and Yemchenko answered equally, and Elatontsev scored 2+1. A little later, Knight fouled on Alexander Shcherbenev at the three-point line (as a result of the episode, UNICS coach Velimir Perasović also received another foul – for unsportsmanship). And when Barford made another 2 after a quick break, thanks to Elatontsev’s interception, the score became 43:48!

UNICS switched to shelling the opponent’s hoop from a distance, but the courage of the initial minutes had gone. Shcherbenev from the free throw line and Barford from under the hoop were accurate – 47:48. Labeyrie from close range and Vyacheslav Zaitsev (one free-throw out of two) scored three points, in response to which White, in two attacks, established equality on the scoreboard – 51:51. Okaro had another chance to equalize the score with the siren on the third break, but the ball just rolled around the hoop and jumped out – 53:56 before the final quarter. That’s gotta be something interesting!

The final quarter with UNICS scoring free throws in response of Loko’s hero of the day Barford being the soloist: 2+1, then 3 more – 59:61 on the scoreboard. Green from 7 meters and Jalen Reynolds increased the host’s lead to 5 points, but then Shcherbenev accurately hit the hoop from behind the three-point line, and 67:69. Reynolds made a dunk, but Loko found an equally shooter – Elatontsev scored twice, equaling the score, 71:71! And Bako had already been eliminated for too many fouls!

Labeyrie fouled on White, who made one of two free throws – that brought Loko ahead, for the first time in the game! Reynolds scored in the next attack, then UNICS defended firmly, and Dimitriević scored 2+1 – “+4” for UNICS 79 seconds before the final siren, 76:72.

The Krasnodar team rushed in the attack, but Barford committed an attacking foul! Reynolds scored 2 points, then Barford did the same – 74:78. Reynolds, apparently trying to get equal in any way, also fouled in the attack, and Alexander Sekulić took a timeout to squeeze the most of the remaining 28 seconds.

Barford took the ball and made a 2, bringing his score to 33 points – 76:78. White immediately fouled on Knight, who succeeded in both free throws. But another miracle did not happen for Barford – his long-range throw was blocked by Zaitsev.

After this defeat, Loko dropped to 4th place. The next match is March 5 in Krasnoyarsk against Yenisei.

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