Loko lost 1st semifinal game in a tense clutch

In a dramatic semi-final game in Kazan, Lokomotiv Kuban lost to UNICS with a score of 75:78.

The first semi-final game between Loko and UNICS became their 50th head-to-head clash in the VTB United League – no other pair has met more often in the history of the tournament.

At the start, the attack of the red-greens did not go well at all: for 3 minutes, apart from two accurate free throws from Okaro White, there was nothing to boast about. Then, with the score 2:7, Andrei Martyuk was the first to fly over the floor of the Kazan Basket Hall, completing a powerful dunk.

Then the opponents took turns exchanging successful attacks, but the Krasnodar team still remained a follower (10:11). After Louis Labeyrie’s 3-pointer, neither the guests nor the hosts could hit the hoop for 2 minutes, but towards the end of the period the Kazan team organized a breakthrough and finished the quarter 9 points ahead (12:21).

In the 2nd quarter, the southerners were prevented from catching up with their opponents by a large number of losses and a zero percentage of long-range hits: out of 10 attempts in 18 minutes of play, not one reached the goal. Finally, DeVaughn Acoon-Purcell managed to de-null this indicator in the scoresheet – however, the gap remained large, 25:38 at the equator of the fight.

The good news was that Loko had an experience to regain even larger margin: in December they were losing 22 points to UNICS at the mid-game, and still were able to win – that comeback is still the most powerful in the current season. And today the Krasnodarians almost performed the similar task again: losing 18 points (32:50) at one moment, by the beginning of the final quarter they reduced the gap to 9 points (48:57): in many ways thanks to the efforts of Maurice Ndour, who provoked the Kazan team into lots of fouls and tested the strength of the Basket Hall rings. Karvel Anderson and Andrey Martyuk scored so long-awaited 3-pointers, improving the mood of the red-green fans – only “–6”!

Emotions at the end of the game were overwhelming: Jaylen Barford and Louis Labeyrie each received a technical foul, which was the 5th foul for latter. Next, the technical foul (and the 5th one) went to Jalen Reynolds, who also had to leave the court.

Okaro White and Akoon-Purcell scored three free-throws in a row – 69:71 with 23 seconds left. The atmosphere continued to heat up. Nenad Dimitrijević, in his turn, didn’t miss from the free-throw line. Dunk by Okaro White – and two points between the teams again (71:73).

The final seconds of the game seemed to last forever. Dimitrijević scored again after a foul; Ndour converted a lay-up, forcing UNICS to take a timeout. Loko had 3 seconds left to disrupt the hosts’ attack and to equalise. More fouls – Marcos Knight and Eric Green are flawless at the line. Okaro White still had time to score, but this was not enough – 75:78.

The next game is scheduled on May 8, Lokomotiv Kuban will once again face UNICS in Kazan. The game starts at 7 PM MSK.

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