A best-of-three semifinal series continues on Friday, when Unicaja Malaga will have a chance on its home court to sweep the series against visiting Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and move to the 7DAYS EuroCup final in its debut season in the competition. In Game 1 on Tuesday, Unicaja used a strong second half and a 0-11 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to pull away en route to a big 57-73 win. Jeff Brooks paced the winners with 18 points and Kyle Fogg scored 15 for Unicaja.
Meanwhile, Kevin Jones paced Lokomotiv with 17 points and Taylor Rochestie tallied 14 points with 6 assists. Lokomotiv has the competition's best defense, one that allows just 73.2 points per game, but it was Unicaja's defense that dominated in Game 1. Unicaja did not allow Lokomotiv to score more than 13 points in any of the last three quarters, while limiting the hosts to a mere 2-for-20 shooting (10%) from three-point range. In contrast, Unicaja made 9 of 20 shots from downtown. That difference of seven three-pointers accounted for 21 points, and Unicaja will try the same recipe in Game 2 as the long-range shooting has been its strength all season, with the team hitting an average 10.1 triples in its last 10 games since the end of the regular season.
Lokomotiv ranks third in rebounding this season (37.4 rpg), and will have to try to establish control on the glass after getting outrebounded 33-40 in Game 1. Also, Lokomotiv hopes to get more contribution from its leader Mardy Collins, who entered the semifinals averaging 11.7 ppg., 5.7 rpg. and 3.5 apg., but scored only 4 points in almost 28 minutes on Tuesday.
Taylor Rochestie, Guard of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
- We have one focus: to bring Game 3 back to Russia. We are playing against a good team that is coached well. I think we just need to be ourselves and play our basketball to extend this series. I'm confident in our team and what we're doing. It will be a fun game.