Lokomotiv opened the game on a 13-0 run and never trailed, advancing to the playoff semifinals with an 84-79 win in Kazan. Taylor Rochestie led the visitors in scoring for the third consecutive game, scoring 21 points on 7-14 shooting.
UNICS struck first in the series, picking up a 71-62 win in Game 1. But the emergence of Rochestie, who averaged nearly 20 points per game, and Loko’s momentum-shifting win in Game 3, put Kazan on the ropes entering Game 4 at home.
Unfortunately for UNICS, the team’s stars never got going on Friday. Keith Langford, Anton Ponkrashov and Quino Colom combined to go 10-36 from the field, while big man Artsiom Parakhouski had only six points and five rebounds.
To its credit, UNICS never quit. A strong 2nd quarter cut the deficit to five at halftime, 50-45.
Krasnodar bounced back, leading by as much as 14 in the 3rd quarter. With under five minutes remaining in the 4th, the visitors enjoyed a 10-point lead, 75-65.
Needing a miracle, Ponkrashov, Langford and Vadim Panin combined for four 3-pointers, pulling with two points, 81-79, and less than 30 seconds to go.
Matt Janning, however, was able to convert two free throws at the other end and Langford’s 3-pointer missed the mark at the other end, helping the visitors escape with a series-clinching win.
19 – Lokomotiv’s edge at the free-throw line. The visitors took an astounding 44 attempts, 26 more than UNICS, converting 77%.
The most effective player of our team was Taylor Rochestie – 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists. Ian Vougioukas got 17 points and 7 rebounds. Mardy Collins – 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Matt Janning scored 11 points.
Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
- It was a good game, though maybe not Kazan’s best. But that’s sports and competition. Over the entire season, UNICS played well in two of the toughest leagues: the EuroLeague and VTB United League. That’s worthy of respect. This time we won, but that’s sports. Someone wins, someone loses. You can’t say UNICS didn’t compete. We’re happy to be in the semifinals. We’ll play against CSKA. I think we’ve shown throughout the season we’re worthy of reaching this stage. What do I expect from the series? Lokomotiv-Kuban winning 3-0.
Two first semifinals against CSKA take place in Moscow on May 26th and May 28th. The third game is held in Krasnodar on May 31st.