Loko starts the bronze medal series with a loss

Lokomotiv Kuban lost to Zenit in dramatic clutch – 77:79.

Despite the fact that after the grueling semi-final series against UNICS, the Krasnodar team started the game against Zenit with renewed vigor.

Until the middle of the opening quarter, the teams were level (9:9), after which the hosts organized a run 9:0. It was Andrei Martyuk snapped Loko out of the fruitless pause with his spectacular shots. Inspired by this, Dmitry Uzinsky robbed Thomas Heurtel, adding a couple more points to the guests’ account in a quick break. Next, Jaylen Barford made an interception, and after Zenit violated the rules, he calmly sent the ball into the hoop from the free throw line – 17:20 by the first short break.

In the opening of the 2nd quarter, Loko gained points mostly through Martyuk’s efforts of Martyuk. Yet, Zenit was very good in offensive rebounds, which resulted in 21:30 on the scoreboard.

Suddenly, passions on the floor heated up: Okaro White got disqualification after a conflict with the referee. Despite the loss of an important player, the guests kept fighting: Anton Kvitkovskikh scored from a distance, Maurice Ndour burst into the paint, and Karvel Anderson reduced the gap to a minimum with a 3-pointer – 32:33.

Martyuk scored 5 points in just a minute – but each time Zenit managed to stay ahead. With the score 48:49, Kirill Yelatontsev burst onto the floor; Barford stormed through the Zenit defense; Maurice Ndour played successfully in the opposing half; and Patrick Miller scored with a foul. Finally, that allowed Loko to grab the lead – 63:62 at the start of the 4th quarter.

The red-greens started to increase their advantage: Miller scored second-chance points, Martyuk made one powerful block after another, DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell forced opponents to foul on him. At the moment, Vladislav Yemchenko increased the advantage to 7 points with an elegant lay-up (73: 66).

Zenit threw all their efforts into organizing the final push – and succeeded. Just a minute before the final siren the score was equal – 75:75. Maurice Ndour forced Vince Hunter to foul and both of his free throws hit the target. However, Hunter’s answer was not long in coming – 77:77 and 15 seconds of play.

The final seconds turned into tragedy. In spite of starting their own attack from the back line, Loko lost both the ball and Ndour – the forward slipped and received a fire knee injury. Hunter grabbed the ball and immediately scored – 77:79. There still was 13 seconds left. Yemchenko had a chance to hit the 3-pointer, but his shot was blocked.

The second game of the series for bronze is scheduled on May 27, in St. Petersburg again.

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