Game Of The Week: Lokomotiv-Kuban vs. UNICS

Game Of The Week: Lokomotiv-Kuban vs. UNICS

Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar plays UNICS Kazan in a regular season match-up.

Basket Hall (capacity 7,500), Krasnodar, Russia

2:30 PM (2:30 MSK), March 16, 2019

Match TV,

Face to face
UNICS and Lokomotiv have met often, both in the League and European competition, at every possible stage. This season was no exception. Last year, UNICS defeated its rival twice during the regular season, including a 93-65 win at home in March, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in the rivalry. 

The White and Green won again this October, 79-75 at home. The competition continued in the EuroCup, where UNICS secured a 2-1 series win in the quarterfinals, which wrapped up on Wednesday. 

Within the VTB League, Krasnodar enjoys a 13-10 series lead all-time. 

Looking back

This game has huge implications for both teams and comes only days after a heated EuroCup playoff series. Kazan advanced 2-1 thanks to home-court advantage with each of the games going to the home team. 

This will be the fourth game between these teams in 10 days, which means both coaches know the opposition down to the finest detail. At stake: the potential two seed in the postseason and avoiding CSKA until the finals as well as earning home-court advantage in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. UNICS is currently in 2nd place with a 14-4 record, but Lokomotiv (13-5) and Khimki (13-5) are close behind.

4 – UNICS’s margin of victory in the first meeting of the season (79-75). One of Krasnodar’s challenges on Saturday will be to win by a bigger margin, giving them the tiebreaker and possession of 2nd place. 

You can’t teach height
Lokomotiv and UNICS boast two of the four tallest players in the League. 218-cm Moustapha Fall ranks 2nd, while 214-cm Artem Klimenko is 4th. The EuroCup quarterfinals demonstrated that both players typically play secondary roles. 

Familiar faces
UNICS has two players who have previously worn Red and Green: Anton Ponkrashov (2014) and Maxim Sheleketo (2008-13). Krasnodar does not have any former UNICS players at the moment.

Dmitry Kulagin vs. Errick McCollum.

Kulagin and McCollum will pick up where they left off in the EuroCup. The two guards were dynamic on offense throughout the quarterfinals. Kulagin scored 17, 26 and 16 points, while McCollum went off for 32, 19 and 11. 

unics_khimki_ubl_vtb_ (13)
Kulagin and McCollum were not afraid to take the initiative and both showed flashes of one-on-one brilliance, scoring from every spot on the court. Except more of the same in Krasnodar.

Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Vlada Jovanovic: “It’s not easy to play four straight games with one team. We need to find the emotional drive and energy once again to play against the same opponent. But this is a new situation for us. Now we’re only playing in the VTB United League. We are very focused on the home game with UNICS. We need this win.”

UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “This is the fourth game in a row. Both teams know each other well. It won’t be easy and we need energy right now. We need to focus and play really good team ball.”