A defensive showdown that turned into a back-and-forth thriller ultimately disappointed the home fans as visiting Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar held on to beat Limoges CSP by 61-63 on Thursday in Group C. Joe Ragland and Chris Babb split all of Lokomotiv's 14 fourth-quarter points to lift their team to victory. Ragland led the winners with 19 points and 4 assists on 8-for-12 two-point shooting. Babb followed with 13 points while Briana Qvale had 12. Axel Bouteille was hot early and finished with 19 points for Limoges, while Danny Gibson had 15.
Points were few and far between as the defenses settled in early but a dunk by Bouteille with 2 minutes left in the first quarter let Limoges double Lokomotiv on the scoreboard on the way to a 14-8 edge after 10 minutes. Lokomotiv reeled it back, however, to tie on a Ragland steal and reverse layup at 18-18. The visitors kept charging until Ryan Broekhoff's shot-clock-beating triple gave them the lead at 24-27. Bouteille and Gibson answered from deep, putting Limoges back in front, but only the former's buzzer-beating triple after a steal to end the half let the hosts go into the lockers up 33-32. Trevor Lacey and Babb rained triples to open the second half and send Lokomotiv ahead 35-42, forcing a Limoges timeout. Another Broekhoff long-range bomb kept Lokomotiv comfortably ahead for a spell, but Bouteille was having none of it, and consecutive baskets to end the third quarter got the host back within 48-49. Gibson finally did the honors of taking back the lead for Limoges with a big triple midway through the fourth quarter at 53-51. Babb and Ragland would give Lokomotiv a new 56-59 advantage with less than 5 minutes left, but Gibson's three-point play tied it again. A tense couple of minutes passed before Ragland broke the jam with a hard-driving layup and Babb added an extra basket for the guests. Limoges got one back on an acrobatic layup from Kenny Hayes, but despite several shots to tie or win in the final minute, could not connect, letting Lokomotiv take the win back to Russia.
The top scorer of our team was the American guard Joe Ragland – 19 points and 4 assists. Chris Babb added his 13 points and 5 rebounds to Loko’s success.
Lokomotiv will host ALBA Berlin in Round 2.
Sasa Obradovic, Head Coach of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
- Our opponents played a basketball with a big intensity. We made the important shoots and kept our focus even in the most difficult moments. It was a pleasure to come back here and I appreciated the public applause for me.
Vladimir Ivlev, Forward of PBC Lokomotiv Kuban:
- It was a tough game at a noisy arena against the team which played fast basketball and received momentum from their fans. Any our turnover or hasty shot led to their burst. First of all, we tried to slow down the rhythm of the game, fight for offensive rebounds, and play aggressively. I’m happy that despite inconveniences of the flight delay we managed to pull ourselves together and win the game. The win of the first game gives us confidence for the future.